President Donald Trump signed an executive order to streamline directives for federal agencies to use energy and water resources more efficiently and has rescinded President Barack Obama's 2015 order that had agencies perform sustainability analyses and implement plans relating to climate change.
The White House in a May 17 press release said the order "will drive continued action and focus on increasing efficiency of federal buildings and vehicles, improving environmental performance, and accomplishing these goals in a manner that reduces costs." Federal agencies spent more than $6 billion on energy for buildings and $635 million on water in 2017, the White House said.
The practical effect of the order appears to be to pare back Obama-era efficiency directives tied to addressing climate change to the extent they went beyond statutory requirements. Trump's order directed the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Management and Budget to streamline energy and environmental requirements to match statutory requirements.
He directed the heads of several U.S. agencies to modify, replace or rescind existing guidance accordingly, including on "opportunities to optimize federal fleet performance, reduce associated costs and streamline reporting and compliance requirements."
Trump and his administration have already rescinded or started to repeal many of the Obama administration's climate-related decisions and regulations, including the Council on Environmental Quality's guidance to consider greenhouse gas emissions in environmental permitting reviews and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. Trump has also called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and has pledged to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The order also stated that a federal chief sustainability officer will head an Office of Federal Sustainability within the Council on Environmental Quality to monitor and provide advice on implementing the order, and federal agencies should designate someone as their chief sustainability officer within 45 days.
The order revoked Obama's March 2015 Executive Order 13693, "Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade," that set a general mandate for agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% over 10 years, to buy more renewable generation and to include the impacts of climate change in federal planning.
Conservative think tank Heartland Institute included the Obama executive order on its list of "global warming regulations" it wanted to see repealed. Heartland disagrees with the majority of scientists who say greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to climate change and has been one of the most outspoken opponents of actions to address the issue.