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Report Quantifies the Effects of Trump's Environmental Policy Changes

With the signs of climate change all around, the effects of the Trump administration's environmental regulation rollbacks look increasingly dire.
September 23, 2020, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Air Pollution

Nadja Popovich and Brad Plumer share the news about a new report by the Rhodium Group that quantifies the effect of the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks in terms of climate emissions. In total, the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks will emit an additional 1.8 billion metric tons of climate emissions equivalent to carbon dioxide by 2035.

The article includes infographics that provides scale to the data revealed by the report, including a breakdown of emissions by type—methane for oil and gas operations, methane for landfills, hydrofluorocarbons, fuel efficiency standards, and removing California's vehicle emissions authority. The two largest sources of emissions enabled by Trump administration policies are the methane for oil and gas operations, at 592 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, and the California vehicle authority, at 573 million metric tons.

For perspective,  Popovich and Plumer report that the total 1.8 billion metric tons of carbon is more than the combined emissions of Canada, Germany, and Britain. The article also notes that the report only accounts for some of the potential effects of Trump administration environmental policies: more changes are still in the works, like the Energy Department's "plans to change federal rules that would have required more efficient light bulbs," and the decision to repeal and replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. "It is unclear what effects [the Clean Power] move will ultimately have," according to Popovich and Plumer. "Many states have been retiring coal plants and shifting to cleaner alternatives recently — because of the falling cost of natural gas, wind and solar power — and were already beating the targets set by the Obama-era rule."

Additional coverage of the Rhodium report is available from Ben German for Axios.

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Published on Thursday, September 17, 2020 in The New York Times
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