Donald Trump Will Gut Obama's Climate-Change Rules This Week

Climate change is already making life harder in South Florida, and the signs remain ever more ominous that it will only get worse. Just last week, scientists found that the Gulf of Mexico is freakishly hot for the tail end of winter — which could fuel monster hurricanes this summer — and, lo and behold, the earliest subtropical storm in 100 years might be forming off the Bahamas.

Sounds like the perfect timing to gut the regulations aimed at curbing America's contributions to carbon-fueled warming, right?

That's exactly what Donald Trump is reportedly set to do tomorrow do with an executive order dismantling Barack Obama's climate-change rules. Trump has yet to reveal specifically what he plans to do — though he has famously called climate change a "Chinese hoax" — but Bloomberg News says it got an early peek at the order.

If Bloomberg's report is accurate, Trump's plan would be very bad for South Florida. Nearly every move outlined in the news agency's piece would take direct aim at regulations that might help prevent sea-level rise from drowning our coastal areas.

The order would start by removing two federal directives that made climate change a major factor in granting new oil-drilling permits and setting standards for power plants and other industries. More broadly, Bloomberg says, Trump will order every federal agency to find and kill virtually any rules that discourage energy production or consumption.

Translation: Energy monopolies such as Florida Power & Light would have a green light to churn out as much energy as possible with zero consideration for how that production affects the global climate.

Just as bad, Trump's order would delete an Environmental Protection Agency rule setting greenhouse-gas limits on new power plants and remove the most basic rules governing fracking on federal lands. Under Trump's rules, companies would no longer have to disclose what chemicals they're pumping into the ground to frack natural gas and wouldn't have to seal off wastewater to prevent it from leeching into the ground.

The result of these changes — which Bloomberg says Trump could sign into law tomorrow — is easy to predict: a profit bonanza for energy monopolies and oil and gas producers. And an end to any pretense that the U.S. will try to live up to the carbon-emissions limits it signed onto in the Paris Accords.

Although some of Obama's climate-change regulations will be more difficult to roll back than others, Trump has also announced plans to slash the EPA's budget by 31 percent and has installed an avowed climate-change denier to run the agency.

On the upside, expect kayak sales to skyrocket in Miami as water lines inch ever higher.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink