President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday rolling back Obama-era rules aimed at curbing climate change.
Watched by coalminers at a ceremony at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, the president signed an order to trigger a review of the clean power plan, Obama’s flagship policy to curb carbon emissions, and rescind a moratorium on the sale of coalmining leases on federal lands.
In his speech, the president said this would put an end to the "war on coal" and "job-killing regulations".
The Energy Independence Executive Order suspends more than half a dozen measures enacted by his predecessor, and boosts fossil fuels.
"With today's executive action I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations."
During the campaign, he vowed to pull the US out of the Paris climate dealagreed in December 2015. After taking office, He appointed climate change sceptic Scott Pruitt as new head of the E.P.A.
Business groups have praised the Trump administration's move but environmental campaigners have condemned it.
Trump’s acceptance of climate change science has long been in question. In 2014 he tweeted: “Global warming is an expensive hoax!”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: “I think he understands – he does not believe that … there is a binary choice been job creation, economic growth, and caring about the environment, and that’s what we should be focusing on. I think at the end of the day, where we should be focusing is making sure that all Americans have clean water, clean air and that we do what we can to preserve and protect our environment.”
The clean power plan – introduced by Obama in 2015 but blocked by the courts last year – was intended to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
"This is, I think, one of the most historic attacks on climate and environmental action that the US has ever seen," said Liz Perera from the Sierra Club, as reported in the BBC.