Trump admin signs pact blaming humans for Arctic ‘climate change’

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed an agreement recognizing the landmark Paris climate accord at a meeting of Arctic nations in Alaska on Thursday, but said President Donald Trump was not rushing to decide whether to leave or weaken U.S. commitments to the pact.

The Arctic agreement Tillerson signed with foreign ministers from the other seven nations of the council, including Russia, Canada and Norway, made only a passing reference to the Paris pact. It noted “entry into force” of the pact and its implementation and called for global action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

Still, Tillerson’s signing of the document surprised a source close to the State Department. “We’d heard … that there would likely be a significant U.S. effort to redline or even remove entirely the Paris and climate language,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the talks.

Tillerson came around to the agreement after hours of debate following a dinner the council members ate together on Wednesday night, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen told Reuters. Tillerson, a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, is one of Trump’s advisers who supports staying in the agreement.

“He was happy about it; he seemed to be satisfied. We all were because it’s a big step,” Samuelsen said.

Tillerson told the council the Trump administration was reviewing how it will approach climate change but was not going to rush to make a decision on Paris. “We are appreciative that each of you has an important point of view,” said Tillerson. “We are going to make the right decision for the United States,” said Tillerson.

Trump is expected to make a decision on Paris after a Group of Seven summit at the end of May.

Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini, whose country will chair the council for the next two years, praised U.S. leadership in the Arctic Council, but added that the Paris pact is an important tool in fighting climate change.

The council also signed an agreement on sharing science and data on the Arctic, an effort led by Russia and the United States, and addressed Arctic search and rescue and communications.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Tom Brown and James Dalgleish)

Trump to make decision on Paris climate pact after G7

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will not make a decision on whether to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement until after he returns from the May 26-27 Group of Seven summit, the White House said Tuesday.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump is continuing to hear from advisers on the pros and cons of the United States remaining in the global accord. He will make a decision when he returns from the G7 summit in Italy, not prior to that, as originally planned.

“It’s a sign that the president wants to continue to meet with his team … and come to a decision on what’s (in) the best interest of the United States,” Spicer told reporters.

Trump advisers had been scheduled to meet at the White House on Tuesday to try to reach a final decision, but a White House official said the meeting was postponed due to scheduling conflicts.

His advisers and cabinet chiefs have been split over whether Trump should keep his campaign promise to pull the United States out of the agreement or remain to try to reshape it, according to senior administration officials and several people briefed on the meeting.

His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who are senior presidential advisers, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are in favor of remaining, while Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt and senior adviser Steve Bannon have urged Trump to withdraw.

Advisers had been under pressure to deliver a final recommendation to Trump ahead of the May 26-27 G7 meeting.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Trump admin vows commitment to Arctic climate change research

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will participate in advancing climate change research in the Arctic, a State Department official said on Monday, ahead of a summit of Arctic nations later this week where Washington’s commitment to tackling climate change will likely be questioned.

Trump vowed during his campaign to “cancel” the Paris climate deal within 100 days of becoming president – a time period which has already passed – and has asked his advisers to debate whether the United States should stay in the pact.

The Paris climate pact was agreed by nearly 200 nations in 2015 to curb warming by slashing carbon dioxide emissions.

But Washington will not shut down participation in climate science on the Arctic.

“The U.S. will remain engaged in the work the Arctic Council does on climate change throughout,” David Balton, the State Department’s assistant secretary for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, told reporters in a teleconference ahead of the meeting. “I am very confident there will be no change in that regard,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will host the biennial Arctic Council meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Thursday.

The meeting will be attended by foreign ministers from Russia, Canada and other nations with territory in the Arctic.

Finland is due to take over the two-year chairmanship of the council from the United States at the end of Thursday’s meeting. Finland has said it aims to protect the Arctic during its chairmanship by adhering to the Paris agreement.

“It is of decisive importance that the United States remains part” of the Paris agreement, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said ahead of the Arctic Council meeting.

Trump has said he will announce his decision on the climate pact before a Group of Seven summit at the end of May.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Full text of Trump Executive Order Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy

EXECUTIVE ORDER

– – – – – – –

IMPLEMENTING AN AMERICA-FIRST OFFSHORE ENERGY STRATEGY

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., and in order to maintain global leadership in energy innovation, exploration, and production, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Findings.  America must put the energy needs of American families and businesses first and continue implementing a plan that ensures energy security and economic vitality for decades to come.  The energy and minerals produced from lands and waters under Federal management are important to a vibrant economy and to our national security.  Increased domestic energy production on Federal lands and waters strengthens the Nation’s security and reduces reliance on imported energy.  Moreover, low energy prices, driven by an increased American energy supply, will benefit American families and help reinvigorate American manufacturing and job growth.  Finally, because the Department of Defense is one of the largest consumers of energy in the United States, domestic energy production also improves our Nation’s military readiness.

Sec. 2.  Policy.  It shall be the policy of the United States to encourage energy exploration and production, including on the Outer Continental Shelf, in order to maintain the Nation’s position as a global energy leader and foster energy security and resilience for the benefit of the American people, while ensuring that any such activity is safe and environmentally responsible.

Sec. 3.  Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.  To carry out the policy set forth in section 2 of this order, the Secretary of the Interior shall:

(a)  as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, including the procedures set forth in section 1344 of title 43, United States Code, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, give full consideration to revising the schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales, as described in that section, so that it includes, but is not limited to, annual lease sales, to the maximum extent permitted by law, in each of the following Outer Continental Shelf Planning Areas, as designated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) (Planning Areas):  Western Gulf of Mexico, Central Gulf of Mexico, Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, Cook Inlet, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic;

(b)  ensure that any revisions made pursuant to subsection (a) of this section do not hinder or affect ongoing lease sales currently scheduled as part of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program, as published on November 18, 2016; and

(c)  develop and implement, in coordination with the Secretary of Commerce and to the maximum extent permitted by law, a streamlined permitting approach for privately funded seismic data research and collection aimed at expeditiously determining the offshore energy resource potential of the United States within the Planning Areas.

Sec. 4.  Responsible Planning for Future Offshore Energy Potential.  (a)  The Secretary of Commerce shall, unless expressly required otherwise, refrain from designating or expanding any National Marine Sanctuary under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq., unless the sanctuary designation or expansion proposal includes a timely, full accounting from the Department of the Interior of any energy or mineral resource potential within the designated area    including offshore energy from wind, oil, natural gas, methane hydrates, and any other sources that the Secretary of Commerce deems appropriate    and the potential impact the proposed designation or expansion will have on the development of those resources.  The Secretary of the Interior shall provide any such accounting within 60 days of receiving a notification of intent to propose any such National Marine Sanctuary designation or expansion from the Secretary of Commerce.

(b)  The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall conduct a review of all designations and expansions of National Marine Sanctuaries, and of all designations and expansions of Marine National Monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906, recently recodified at sections 320301 to 320303 of title 54, United States Code, designated or expanded within the 10-year period prior to the date of this order.

(i)   The review under this subsection shall
include:

(A)  an analysis of the acreage affected and an analysis of the budgetary impacts of the costs of managing each National Marine Sanctuary or Marine National Monument designation or expansion;

(B)  an analysis of the adequacy of any required Federal, State, and tribal consultations conducted before the designations or expansions; and

(C)  the opportunity costs associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production from the Outer Continental Shelf, in addition to any impacts on production in the adjacent region.

(ii)  Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Interior, shall report the results of the review under this subsection to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

(c)  To further streamline existing regulatory authorities, Executive Order 13754 of December 9, 2016 (Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience), is hereby revoked.

Sec. 5.  Modification of the Withdrawal of Areas of the Outer Continental Shelf from Leasing Disposition.  The body text in each of the memoranda of withdrawal from disposition by leasing of the United States Outer Continental Shelf issued on December 20, 2016, January 27, 2015, and July 14, 2008, is modified to read, in its entirety, as follows:

“Under the authority vested in me as President of the United States, including section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1341(a), I hereby withdraw from disposition by leasing, for a time period without specific expiration, those areas of the Outer Continental Shelf designated as of July 14, 2008, as Marine Sanctuaries under the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, 16 U.S.C. 1431-1434, 33 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.”

Nothing in the withdrawal under this section affects any rights under existing leases in the affected areas.

Sec. 6.  Reconsideration of Notice to Lessees and Financial Assurance Regulatory Review.  The Secretary of the Interior shall direct the Director of BOEM to take all necessary steps consistent with law to review BOEM’s Notice to Lessees No. 2016 N01 of September 12, 2016 (Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas, and Sulfur Leases, and Holders of Pipeline Right-of-Way and Right-of-Use and Easement Grants in the Outer Continental Shelf), and determine whether modifications are necessary, and if so, to what extent, to ensure operator compliance with lease terms while minimizing unnecessary regulatory burdens.  The Secretary of the Interior shall also review BOEM’s financial assurance regulatory policy to determine the extent to which additional regulation is necessary.

Sec. 7.  Reconsideration of Well Control Rule.  The Secretary of the Interior shall review the Final Rule of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) entitled “Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control,” 81 Fed. Reg. 25888 (April 29, 2016), for consistency with the policy set forth in section 2 of this order, and shall publish for notice and comment a proposed rule revising that rule, if appropriate and as consistent with law.  The Secretary of the Interior shall also take all appropriate action to lawfully revise any related rules and guidance for consistency with the policy set forth in section 2 of this order.  Additionally, the Secretary of the Interior shall review BSEE’s regulatory regime for offshore operators to determine the extent to which additional regulation is necessary.

Sec. 8.  Reconsideration of Proposed Offshore Air Rule.  The Secretary of the Interior shall take all steps necessary to review BOEM’s Proposed Rule entitled “Air Quality Control, Reporting, and Compliance,” 81 Fed. Reg. 19718 (April 5, 2016), along with any related rules and guidance, and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable and consistent with law, consider whether the proposed rule, and any related rules and guidance, should be revised or withdrawn.

Sec. 9.  Expedited Consideration of Incidental Harassment Authorizations, Incidental-Take, and Seismic Survey Permits.  The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce shall, to the maximum extent permitted by law, expedite all stages of consideration of Incidental Take Authorization requests, including Incidental Harassment Authorizations and Letters of Authorization, and Seismic Survey permit applications under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.

Sec. 10.  Review of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-55.  The Secretary of Commerce shall review NOAA’s Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-55 of July 2016 (Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing) for consistency with the policy set forth in section 2 of this order and, after consultation with the appropriate Federal agencies, take all steps permitted by law to rescind or revise that guidance, if appropriate.

Sec. 11.  Review of Offshore Arctic Drilling Rule.  The Secretary of the Interior shall immediately take all steps necessary to review the Final Rule entitled “Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations on the Outer Continental Shelf—Requirements for Exploratory Drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf,” 81 Fed. Reg. 46478 (July 15, 2016), and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable and consistent with law, publish for notice and comment a proposed rule suspending, revising, or rescinding this rule.

Sec. 12.  Definition.  As used in this order, “Outer Continental Shelf Planning Areas, as designated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management” means those areas delineated in the diagrams on pages S-5 and S-8 of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program, as published by the BOEM in January 2015, with the exception of any buffer zones included in such planning documents.

Sec. 13.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
    April 28, 2017.

Trump advisers likely to meet in May on Paris climate pact

UNClimateButton2By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Trump administration officials will likely meet in May to reach a final decision on whether the United States should stay in the Paris climate deal, after holding an initial meeting on Thursday at the White House, an administration source said.

The group of advisers, which includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, was on track to make the decision before a Group of Seven summit on May 26, the source said.

President Donald Trump made canceling the Paris agreement part of his 100-day plan for energy policy. He later said he was open to staying in the pact if Washington got better terms.

Tillerson, the former head of Exxon Mobil Corp and Perry have said the country should remain in the agreement. McMaster shares that view, a source outside the administration said.

Opponents of the pact include Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, the former attorney general of oil-producing Oklahoma, and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Nearly 200 countries struck the Paris agreement to limit climate change by cutting carbon dioxide emissions and making investments in clean energy.

Many companies such as BP Plc and Microsoft Corp have urged the United States to stay in the agreement to protect their competitiveness.

In addition, a group of nine Republican lawmakers urged Trump to stick to the pact, but to weaken the U.S. pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Representative Kevin Cramer of oil-producing North Dakota and eight other Republican House of Representatives members sent a letter to Trump urging him to use the country’s “seat at the Paris table to defend and promote our commercial interest, including our manufacturing and fossil fuel sectors.”

If the United States is to stay in the 2015 agreement, Washington should present a new emissions cutting pledge that “does no harm to our economy,” said the letter from Cramer, who advised Trump on energy and climate during his presidential campaign.

Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had pledged a 26 percent to 28 percent cut in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels, by 2025. Most scientists say the world needs to curb greenhouse gas emissions to limit the effects of climate change, including rising seas, deadly heatwaves, and severe storms and droughts.

The Republican lawmakers also said Washington should retain its seat on the Green Climate Fund, which aims to tackle climate change in poor countries, but not make additional transfers to it. Obama pledged $3 billion to the fund in 2014, and gave $1 billion to it, with the last $500 million payment coming in his last days as president.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio and Jonathan Oatis)

President Trump Signs Executive Order Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America

Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump welcomed farmers to the Roosevelt Room of the White House, where he participated in a roundtable discussion and signed the Executive Order Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America.

America’s noble farming tradition stretches back to its earliest days.  Farmers led the way across the Great Plains, and put down roots from coast to coast.  Today, America’s farmers feed not only our nation, but millions of people around the world.

President Trump signing Executive Order on Agriculture

Our farmers deserve a government that serves their interest and empowers them to do the hard work that they love to do so much.  With this order, the President directed Secretary Perdue to work with other members of the Cabinet to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that hurt our Nation’s farmers and rural communities.

President Trump signing Executive Order on Agriculture

Remarks by President Trump in Farmers Roundtable and Executive Order Signing Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America

THE PRESIDENT:  Busy day.  They had a very busy day — had a good day.  We’re doing well, very well.  Things are turning around.  I know they’re turning around for you folks, so I just want to welcome you very much to the White House — special place — America’s farmers and ranchers.  

I especially want to congratulate Secretary — now I can say, Secretary Sonny Perdue, who was just sworn in as the Secretary of Agriculture — (applause) — sworn in by Justice Thomas.  And it was a beautiful ceremony, and we’re going to celebrate a little bit later, and that’s great.  We’re very happy.  And you had a good vote too.

SECRETARY PERDUE:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  You didn’t have one of those 51-49 votes.  (Laughter.)  He had a very big vote, so thank Justice Thomas too — great man, great person.  We appreciate it.

America’s noble farming tradition stretches back to its earliest days.  Farmers led the way across the Great Plains, and put down roots from coast to coast.  Today, America’s farmers feed not only our nation, but millions of people around the world, and we’re going to open that up much more for you folks because, as you know, it’s not totally open, to put it mildly.  We learned that yesterday, frankly, with Canada, where the dairy farmers up in Wisconsin, Upstate New York, different places — a lot of border states in particular — are not able to sell their dairy products into Canada.  And this has been going on for a while, and we’re not going to put up with it.

And separately, we put a very big tax — we will be putting a very big tariff on lumber — timber — coming into this country.  People don’t realize Canada has been very rough on the United States.  Everyone thinks of Canada as being wonderful, and so do I.  I love Canada.  But they’ve outsmarted our politicians for many years, and you people understand that.  So we did institute a very big tariff; we announced it yesterday.  And we’re going to take care of our dairy farmers in Wisconsin, and Upstate New York, and lots of other places.  So I think you people all probably agree with that, right?  Would you agree with that?  You better believe it.

Our farmers deserve a government that serves their interest and empowers them to do the hard work that they love to do so much.  And that’s what today’s executive order is all about.  With this order, I’m directing Secretary Perdue to work with other members of my Cabinet to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that hurt our nation’s farmers and rural communities.  

Now, Sonny, I’ve already signed a lot of regulations and terminations that really help the farmer a lot.  You know what I’m talking about.  But we have some left, and you’ll identify them.  But we’ve really gotten rid of some of the biggest ones.  And that was a big help, right?  I mean, they won’t tell you about it, but they’re big numbers, and it’s going to mean a lot to the farmers.

This order also establishes the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, to be led by Secretary Perdue.  I just want to tell you that it’s an honor to be with you because, among many other things, with this order, we continue a very relentless effort to make life better for hardworking Americans, and that includes the farmers and all of the people gathered around this table, including our ranchers, our rural community folks.  We’re having a very, very big impact.  It’s already started.  Sonny is going to now identify additional areas where we can get rid of unnecessary regulations, and you people are going to be so prosperous, and you’re going to hire so many more people than currently work for you, and that’s going to make me very happy, okay?

So I want to thank you very much.  So do we have the executive order, please?

So this is promoting agriculture and rural prosperity in America.  And, now, there’s a lot of words I won’t bother reading everything.  But agriculture and rural prosperity in America, that’s what we want.  And we don’t want to be taken advantage of by other countries — and that’s stopping, and that’s stopping fast.  Okay, thank you.

(The President signs the executive order.)

Well, perhaps I should give this pen to Sonny Perdue.  What do you think?  (Laughter and applause.)  

Thank you very much, everybody.

Q    Mr. President, do you fear a trade war with Canada, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, not at all.

Q    Why not?

THE PRESIDENT:  They have a tremendous surplus with the United States.  Whenever they have a surplus, I have no fear.  By the way, virtually every country has a surplus with the United States.  We have massive trade deficits.  So when we’re the country with the deficits, we have no fear.

Q    Will you sign a CR if it doesn’t include funding for the wall?

THE PRESIDENT:  Say it?

Q    Will you sign a CR to continue funding the government if it doesn’t include — 

THE PRESIDENT:  The wall is going to get built, by the way.  Just in case anybody has any question:  The wall is going to get built, and the wall is going to stop drugs, and it’s going to stop a lot of people from coming in that shouldn’t be here, and it’s going to have a huge effect on human trafficking, which is a tremendous problem in this world — a problem that nobody talks about — but it’s a problem that’s probably worse than any time in the history of this world.  Human trafficking, what’s going on.  

The wall is going to get built, and we’re setting record numbers in terms of stopping people from coming in, and stopping drugs from coming in.  You see the numbers down 73, 74 percent.  I will say, Secretary Kelly — formerly General Kelly — is doing an incredible job.  And I was just with him a little while ago, and he said we definitely, desperately need the wall.  And we’re going to have the wall built.  I mean, I don’t know why people are talking.  I watch these shows, and the pundits in the morning — they don’t know what they’re talking about.  The wall gets built — 100 percent.  Thank you very much.

Q    When will the wall get built?

THE PRESIDENT:  Soon.  We’re already preparing.  We’re doing plans.  We’re doing specifications.  We’re doing a lot of work on the wall, and the wall gets built.  The wall is very, very important.

Q    In your first term?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s certainly going to — yeah, yeah, sure.

Q    In your first term?

THE PRESIDENT:  We have plenty of time — got a lot of time.

Thank you.

END