An environmental group thinks the state faces uncertainty, given the policies of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump.
New EPA Director Scott Pruitt recently said carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming.
Andy Knott with the Sierra Club of Missouri contends Pruitt’s statement puts him in conflict with the organization he runs.
“It does put him squarely at odds with his own agency, the U.S. EPA, which says that carbon pollution is produced by humans, and is the primary greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change” said Knott.
Pruitt’s statement about CO2’s contribution to climate change was deemed false by Politifact. He’s none the less expected to make dramatic changes to the EPA’s policies after having sued the agency more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s Attorney General.
President Trump could quickly enable such moves to be made. He’s indicated he’ll issue an executive order which’ll include loosening regulations restricting carbon emissions at power plants.
The Sierra Club’s Knott says those emissions have already heavily impacted the state’s biggest industry, agriculture. “We’ve had changes in the classification of crops in Missouri because the climate is getting warmer. We are seeing an increase in certain types of species that affect crops.”
According to the state, agriculture has an $88.4 million impact on Missouri, providing almost 380,000 jobs.
Trump’s executive order, if and when it’s issued, will likely begin the process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan. In addition to loosening carbon restrictions at power plants, it would likely lift a moratorium on new coal mining on federal land.
Despite such changes, Missouri is on a course to be in compliance with the Clean Power Plan, regardless of its status as policy. In its current form, the plan calls for the state to reduce power plant emissions 30-to-32% over the next 13 years. Knott says Missouri is actually in a good position to meet those standards.
“We’re well on our way to meeting that target” said Knott. Certain coal plant are already retired, or are planning to retire in the next few years. And we’re seeing more and more clean energy coming on line in Missouri.”
If the Clean Power is scrapped, Knott thinks environmental progress will be slowed, but he contends economic changes are triggering advances in clean energy such as wind power.
The Clean Power Plan itself is still a proposal, thanks a Supreme Court stay on its implementation last year. EPA head Pruitt was a party to lawsuits against it as Oklahoma’s Attorney General.
Knott thinks President Trump’s Executive Order is in flux right now because of debate over the climate issue within the administration. He says the order could be delayed for a week or so.