The Environmental Protection Agency is set to unveil new federal data today that shows U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased 2.7%, according to a release viewed by Axios.

Why it matters: This drop, between 2016 and 2017, is due largely to market forces and moves by President Obama and Congress, and occurred before President Trump officially took office. EPA's announcement contrasts with Trump, who in recent days has dismissed climate change as an issue.

"Thanks to President Trump's regulatory agenda, the economy is booming, energy production is surging, and we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources."
— Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement

The big picture: Today's move is in line with previous conflicting statements from the administration. Trump publicly doubts climate change, yet in official moves, EPA and other agencies stick largely with the scientific consensus, which is that human activity is driving the Earth's temperature up.

Details:

  • Reported emissions from large power plants have dropped 4.5% since 2016 and nearly 20% since 2011.
  • These declines are driven mostly by market forces of cheap, cleaner-burning natural gas replacing dirtier coal in the electricity sector. Trump wants to bring back coal, which would raise emissions, though he's unlikely to succeed.
  • The decline is also due to renewable energy growth, driven by state energy mandates and federal tax credits over the past decade.
  • A 2012 air-pollution regulation Obama issued also drove a lot of coal plants to shut down. Trump wants to review that, though it's unlikely to bring back any coal plants.

Between the lines: EPA is repealing all of Obama's climate-related regulations, though given the plethora of natural gas available and dropping renewable-energy prices, the regulations are unlikely to have a big impact either way.

Reality check: As I said in this recent Harder Line column, Trump administration officials tout how America's greenhouse gas emissions are at levels not seen in decades. Yet these same Trump officials don’t say they actually care about climate change, which is what these emissions are all about.

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Elliott Abrams to replace Brian Hook as Trump's Iran envoy

Brian Hook. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

President Trump's Iran envoy, Brian Hook, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Thursday. He will be replaced with Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams, a noted Iran hawk who will serve in both roles.

Why it matters: Hook had been tasked with executing Trump's "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran, working closely with Pompeo. That strategy has deepened tensions and thus far failed to force Iran back to the negotiating table, as Trump had hoped.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump visit

Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has tested positive for COVID-19 and plans to quarantine at his home for the next 14 days, his office announced Thursday. He currently has no symptoms.

Why it matters: The 73-year-old DeWine was set to meet President Trump Thursday on the tarmac at an airport in Cleveland and was tested as part of standard protocol. He is the second governor known to have contracted the coronavirus, after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R).

Updated 47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 18,860,908 — Total deaths: 708,676— Total recoveries — 11,394,821Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 4,834,546 — Total deaths: 158,445 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Fauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery — Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.