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Can Trump Hit Brake on Climate Change Regulations?

One important decision awaiting President-elect Donald Trump is what to do with rules intended to reduce carbon pollution and slow climate change. (Greg Stotelmyer)
One important decision awaiting President-elect Donald Trump is what to do with rules intended to reduce carbon pollution and slow climate change. (Greg Stotelmyer)
November 21, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. – In Kentucky, where the coal industry and political leaders rail against the Obama administration's air pollution limits, attention now turns to what President-elect Donald Trump will do.

James Van Nostrand, a law professor and director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at West Virginia University College of Law, predicts the Clean Power Plan will be a definite casualty.

However, he says when he was in Lexington last month for the Kentucky Mineral Law Conference, there was talk about big companies, such as Toyota and Walmart, aggressively pushing sustainability objectives.

"You have corporations that are demanding this decarbonization of their electricity supply, and it's not depending upon federal policies or state policies,” Van Nostrand explains. “One, I think it's their corporate image. Two, I think they're also looking at the reality of climate change. "

Kentucky is among the states, which are court trying to stall implementation of limits on power-plant emissions. However, Van Nostrand says an "energy revolution" is underway, driven by market forces, which he predicts will continue, irrespective of the Clean Power Plan.

Trump calls the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations "a disgrace."

Walton Shepherd, staff attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council, says even if Trump disregards the international agreement, climate change isn't going to wait – and neither is the move toward clean energy.

"Wind and solar are the fastest growing supply of electricity in the country, and there are now more people employed in solar energy than in the oil and gas or coal-mining industries," he points out.

Shepherd adds that clean air rules to address climate change are deeply embedded in the law, and very popular across the country. He says that's why George W. Bush, during his presidency, could stall but not completely stop regulations to address climate change.

"That administration also tried very hard to dismantle clean air protections,” Shepherd states. “And quite simply, they abandoned their efforts in the face of public opposition."

Just in the last week, Trump tabbed a climate change skeptic to oversee the EPA transition.


Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY