Recent energy industry and environmental landmarks have been reached thanks to the policies of his administration, President Trump said Monday in a speech in Washington, DC.
"The previous administration waged a relentless war on American energy," Trump said in a speech delivered in the East Room of the White House. "We can't do that. They sought to punish our workers, our producers, and manufacturers with ineffective global agreements that allowed the world's worst-polluting countries to continue their practices.
“These radical plans would not make the world cleaner; they would just make and put Americans out of work, and they put them out of work rapidly. They move production to foreign countries with lower standards -- our companies were forced to do that, and they didn't want to do that -- and they drive up the price of gas and electricity at home, and drive it to levels that are literally unaffordable."
Trump "is pursuing effective policies to advance environmental protection while promoting economic growth," according to the White House, and the United States is making “environmental progress in clean air and clean water."
Trump's claims of energy and environmental leadership were backed by several industry groups.
"Under the Trump administration, officials have successfully scaled back many of the unnecessary, burdensome regulations hindering growth of the U.S. oil and gas industry, while at the same time strengthening environmental protections in the United States," said Ed Longanecker, president of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association. "Federal entities, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and U.S. Interior Department, have adopted regulatory practices that favor boosting energy development, promote economic growth, and support environmental stewardship."
"While our energy infrastructure is the envy of the world, key projects are being delayed or blocked entirely," said Don Santa, CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. The Trump administration has worked "to find commonsense solutions that have moved some of these stalled projects forward," Santa said.
Environmental groups, however, disagreed with Trump's self-assessment of his policies.
"Donald Trump's speech...was full of more hot air than his dangerous policies and rollbacks are pumping into our atmosphere," said Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club. "Attempting to greenhouse gaslight the American people with a single speech -- one that fails to even acknowledge the climate crisis -- won't help the families and communities suffering from the toxic pollution caused by Trump's dangerous agenda."
Critics were quick to point out that Trump's speech came on the same day the EPA published a final rule repealing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and replacing it with the Trump administration's Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. ACE, first proposed by EPA a year ago and adopted by the agency last month, shifts to states much of the responsibility for regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants, potentially opening a door to the increased burning of coal.
The CPP faced repeated legal challenges. Twenty-seven states sued over the plan, arguing that it was an overreach by EPA. In February 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked implementation of the rule until all legal challenges are resolved.
On Monday, the American Public Health Association and the American Lung Association said they would file their own legal challenges to Trump's replacement of CPP with ACE.
"In repealing the Clean Power Plan and adopting the ACE rule, EPA abdicates its legal duties and obligations to protect public health under the Clean Air Act, which is why we are challenging these actions," the health organizations said.
"As affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, EPA has legal authority and obligation under the Clear Air Act to protect and preserve public health and welfare, including by regulating carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants. However, it is simply not lawful for EPA to use its legal authority in ways that will increase dangerous air pollutants and harm the health of Americans."
The International Energy Agency has estimated 2018 carbon dioxide emissions from North America, the European Union and advanced economies in Asia Pacific increased about 0.5%, breaking a five-year run of declines, driven in part by higher oil and gas consumption.