With the probable nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as President-elect #Donald Trump’s attorney general, activists are worried that the Department of Justice (DOJ) won’t enforce environmental laws. Green activists note that Sessions has consistently questioned man’s influence on global climate and has attacked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for over-regulating industries. One broadly written EPA rule, the Clean Power Plan, was vehemently opposed by Sessions for its vast regulatory overreach.
The Sessions nomination is a clear sign, activists say, that Trump is keeping his word on rolling back the EPA’s stranglehold on certain industries and pushing back on President #Obama’s #Climate Change legacy. Some experts think President Obama could issue thousands of new regulations in the remaining months of his presidency. More recently, Obama rolled out $5 billion worth of regulations just ahead of Thanksgiving. And when Sessions is confirmed, as most policy wonks believe, he will decide which regulations to enforce and which ones to let die on the vine.
Using the DOJ as a partisan weapon
The scenario is similar to how Obama ran the Justice Department. Through his loyalists, Obama used the DOJ to pick and choose which laws they would enforce, as demonstrated by then-AG Eric Holder and current AG Loretta Lynch. From the IRS investigations of Tea Party applicants to the Clinton email scandal to unfettered disregard for current immigration laws, the DOJ has turned a blind eye when politically expedient. Sessions would likely need to replace 80 percent of the DOJ, given that much of the department is composed of acolytes brought in from Obama’s still-active Organizing for Action group.
Challenging climate orthodoxy
When Sessions has challenged the global warming narrative, he has done so based on careful deliberation. Though it would be easy to call Sessions a "science denier," he actually understands climate science more than the typical layperson. He has called the foundation of climate science an act of “deliberate misinformation.” And on the senate floor, he’s spoken out against the hype and hyperbole surrounding the global warming debate, placing the blame for America’s rising electricity prices squarely on the EPA’s shoulders.
By issuing executive actions using and imposing new regulations, Obama’s EPA has shuttered more coal-fired power plants because it was cheaper than retrofitting them to meet the stringent new “clean air” guidelines. Coal plant experts have said that existing coal plants already run clean, and that the onerous regulations are capricious and designed to bankrupt the coal industry. That argument was enough for the Supreme Court to issue an unprecedented stay, which put the Clean Power Plan on hold while 29 states and industry groups contest its legality.
Undoing midnight regulations
Sessions also used the senate floor to showcase the well-documented global warming pause that lasted from 1998 to 2015, interrupted by a naturally occurring El Nino that elevated temperatures worldwide. Now the pause is back as indicated by the most accurate measuring equipment available to scientists: the satellite record.
But the most worrying concern anti-fossil fuel activists have is that Sessions may not uphold agency rules, thus giving energy companies a pass. While there is no proof Sessions would be an energy patsy, activists are already creating a narrative the frenetic media is readily embracing.
Trump reiterated this week that “for every new regulation, two must be eliminated.” With much of Obama’s climate rules facing the chopping block, Sessions can undo the ‘midnight regulations’ being rushed out by Obama’s vast regulatory agencies and to make America energy independent. It remains to be seen if he will be hostile to green initiatives, but his support for domestic energy producers suggests a more nuanced approach to power generation in the U.S. than that of the overzealous Obama Administration.