US President Donald Trump has taken an axe to the environmental regulations he inherited from his predecessor Barack Obama, cutting dozens of rules ranging from fracking on public land to protections for endangered species.
Yet supporters of the Paris climate change accord believe state-level efforts could mean the US will meet greenhouse gas emissions targets envisaged under the landmark agreement, despite being the only country to announce its withdrawal.
Automobile fuel and emission standards are the latest regulations in the administration’s crosshairs, according to a report by the New York Times.
The paper reported Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic with ties to the fossil fuel industry, has determined Obama-era controls placed too great a burden on manufacturers.
It comes on the heels of the EPA’s announcement last fall it was seeking to repeal the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature environmental policy that would have limited each state’s greenhouse-gas emissions.
Already tied up by legal challenges, the Trump administration has vowed to bury it for good.
These and other regulations constituted the building blocks of Obama’s plan to fulfill US commitments to the 2015 pact.
The targets, which were already modest compared to those of the European Union, are clearly in danger.
But the United States’ federal system of government and polarized political climate offer hope: states like California and New York are governed by opposition Democrats horrified by their Republican president’s stance on global climate change, and are taking steps to oppose it.
It was for these reasons that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was the most recent figure to suggest “there are expectations” the US will meet its erstwhile commitments, with or without Trump’s blessing.