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100 days into Trump presidency, much of Obama climate, energy policy in tatters

The new U.S. president has faltered on many promises, but when it comes to unraveling his predecessor's environmental legacy, he's moved quickly. Still, one major question mark remains


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Trump’s first hundred days have been long ones for climate and clean energy advocates, who have seen many of Obama’s policies overturned. PHOTO: Pete Souza/The White House

WASHINGTON—Just shy of the 45th president’s first 100 days in office, many of his predecessor’s climate and energy initiatives have been reversed, shelved or are under serious threat.

While Donald Trump’s road to the White House was paved in big and sometimes impossible pledges, overturning certain Obama-era environmental polices is one of the few areas where the new president has not faltered much.

On other issues, such as the border wall with Mexico, a replacement for Obamacare and promised trade punishment against China for currency manipulation, Trump has stalled or reversed his position. In fact, of 38 specific promises Trump made in his 100-day “contract” with voters, he’s accomplished 10, an Associated Press analysis found—not exactly a winning track record.

But when it comes to undoing former President Barack Obama’s climate and energy policies, Trump has done quite well.

As one of his first acts, Trump lifted Obama roadblocks placed in front of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. He has also unraveled a number of restrictions on the coal and oil and gas industries, as well as initiated a review of the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to restrict greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. In Detroit last month, Trump also set a review of Obama-era fuel emissions regulations in motion.

Still, one major environmental pledge remains unkept.

Trump promised to cancel payments to U.N. climate change programs and pull out of the Paris climate accord within his first 100 days. He has until Saturday, when the administration turns 100-days-old, if he wishes to make good on the commitment.

But the president has yet to make a decision on the major climate pact and his aides, it seems, are torn.

Last week the White House called off a meeting aimed at hammering out a recommendation for Trump due to scheduling conflicts, though it said it plans to reschedule.

Since then, Trump has launched several broadsides against major Canadian trade interests, including lumber and dairy. The comments have put more distance between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was one of the strongest supporters of Obama’s climate policies.

Beyond simply reneging his promise to abandon the Paris deal, Trump’s options include following through and pulling the U.S. out of the non-binding agreement, or doing nothing—which would allow him to publicly attack the treaty without officially withdrawing.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Trump defended his first 100 days in office, saying “I’ve done more than any other president in the first 100 days,” even as he criticized the marker as an “artificial barrier.”

While the president has yet to accomplish more than half the promises on his “contract” with voters, the environment file is one area where he has been quick to act. Despite the remaining uncertainty about the Paris accord, U.S. climate policy looks markedly different than it did Jan. 19.

 

—Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Calvin Woodward, Alicia A. Caldwell, Lolita C. Baldor and Julie Bykowicz contributed to this report


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