The environmental legacy of President Barack Obama may be undone as President-Elect Donald Trump takes office next year and follows through on promises to roll back Obama’s work on climate change.

Trump is considering appointing one of the leading climate change deniers in the scientific community to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, according to Scientific American. Sources told the journal that Trump will appoint Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute. 

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“There has been a little bit of warming ... but it’s been very modest and well within the range for natural variability, and whether it’s caused by human beings or not, it’s nothing to worry about,” he told Vanity Fair in 2007.

The most significant policy reversal Trump enacts may be for the Paris agreement on climate change, a major deal coordinated by nearly 200 countries a year ago with the goal of reducing the impact of climate change.

The US pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 26% to 28% percent lower than their 2005 levels by 2025, a goal that would be carried out through Obama’s carbon-reduction rules at home.

Trump can merely stop enforcing the initiative to stop progress on the agreement, according to the report, according to CNBC.

Trump has promised to “cancel” the agreement.

Obama used executive actions and rules to accomplish much of his work on the climate, meaning Trump could easily do the same to eliminate those actions and rules.

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Trump has also promised to end Obama’s Clean Power Plan, an EPA program that would drastically reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 2030. The plan has been challenged by more than two dozen states and industry groups in court, and the Supreme Court has halted the the plan from moving forward until the challenges are resolves, according to the report.

Ebell, the potential new head of the EPA, has called the plan illegal and said the Paris climate agreement is “an unconstitutional usurpation of the Senate’s authority.”

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One of Trump’s hallmark promises to voters in coal-producing areas of the country has been to revive the coal industry. He said he would allow new leases for coal mining on federal lands, which Obama had stopped.

Trump said he would also lift coal mining regulations that have hampered the industry’s growth, such as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which put limits on mercury, arsenic, and other air pollutants produced by coal plants, according to the report.

He also promised to lift regulations on energy production. An EPA rule aimed at cutting methane emissions on oil and gas drilling equipment could be lifted.  

The rest of Trump’s cabinet could also have an effect on the environmental gains of the Obama administration. According to Scientific American, Trump is considering Republican energy lobbyist Mike McKenna to lead the Department of Energy, and Politico reported he is considering Sarah Palin and Lucas Oil founder Forrest Lucas to lead the Department of the Interior.

Trump has been a vocal denier of climate change. He once tweeted that the scientifically proven phenomenon is a hoax created by China and has also called it “bullshit.”


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By Colleen Curry