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A series of executive orders signed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday reversed climate regulations enacted by former President Barack Obama.
Prominent environmental groups have vowed to sue the government for removing the rules, which the White House says prevent job oil growth in the oil and gas sector.
"These actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American," billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who heads the activist group NextGen Climate, said.
The orders dismantle portions of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which mandated carbon cuts from state-run power plants. This stipulation goes a long way towards the United States’ adherence to promises made in Paris during the 2015 United Nations climate change talks.
"We're going to go in a different direction," a senior White House official told Reuters before Trump signed Tuesday's order, named “Energy Independence” "The previous administration devalued workers with their policies. We can protect the environment while providing people with work."
It remains unclear how the order will directly impact the coal sector, which Trump campaigned on reinvigorating during his campaign.
"I cannot tell you how many jobs the executive order is going to create but I can tell you that it provides confidence in this administration’s commitment to the coal industry," Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White said.
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Pursuing complete energy independence has been on the minds of U.S. presidents since the 1970s Arab Oil Embargo, which caused oil prices to spike drastically. The light crude found within North America mostly satisfies American demand for the grade, but heavier grades still need to be imported from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Domestic crude production has been on the rise in the first quarter of 2017 as shale producers reactivate rigs shuttered due to 2.5 years of low oil prices.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…