President Trump’s top White House adviser on energy and climate stood before the crowd of some 200 people on Monday and tried to burnish the image of coal, the fossil fuel that powered the industrial revolution — and is now a major culprit behind the climate crisis world leaders are meeting here to address. “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” said Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record, scientists projected Wednesday, in the latest evidence of the chasm between international goals for combating climate change and what countries are doing. Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes have been dashed. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent.
The White House is seeking to cut more than $2.5 billion from the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency — an overall reduction of more than 23 percent. The fiscal 2019 proposal released Monday marks the Trump administration’s latest attempt to shrink the reach of an agency the president once promised to reduce to “little tidbits.” The EPA already has lost hundreds of employees to buyouts and retirements over the past year, and its staffing is now at Reagan-era levels.
Since 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency has been embroiled in an enforcement battle with a Michigan-based company accused of modifying the state’s largest coal-fired power plant without getting federal permits for a projected rise in pollution. On Dec. 7, as the Supreme Court was considering whether to hear the case, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a memo that single-handedly reversed the agency’s position. No longer would the EPA be “second-guessing” DTE Energy’s emission projections.
Oklahoma has turned over thousands of pages of emails between former attorney general Scott Pruitt’s office and the energy industry, meeting a deadline set by a judge who ordered the documents’ release following more than two years of effort by an advocacy organization.