Kevin Officer, the production team leader at Rawhide mine stands in one of the active, open mine pits during a tour of Peabody Energy's Rawhide coal mine near Gillette, Wyo., June 1, 2016. Reuters

The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt, the attorney general from Oklahoma and climate change skeptic, to head the Environmental Protection Agency Friday afternoon. Pruitt’s confirmation from a majority-GOP Senate is the latest move from Republicans that has environmental advocates worried about efforts to ignore climate change and kill potential renewable energy jobs.

That fear had been stoked the day before Pruitt was confirmed, when President Donald Trump reversed a regulation that prohibited the coal mining industry from dumping waste into nearby waterways or operating within 100 feet of a stream. The Stream Protection Rule was finalized in December, just before President Barack Obama’s term ended.

Trump and Congressional Republicans said the regulation would hurt the mining industry by killing jobs. As he signed the measure, Trump said ending the rule would save, “many thousands American jobs, especially in the mines, which, I have been promising you — the mines are a big deal.”

Trump and Miner
A coal miner worker shakes hands with President Donald Trump as he prepares to sign Resolution 38, which reverses the Stream Protection Rule, Washington, D.C. , Feb. 16, 2017. Reuters

The mining industry has been hit hard in recent years, and officials from the industry said the Stream Protection would only exacerbate the problem. A report from the National Mining Association concluded that employment in the coal industry could drop by 281,000 positions.

However, another study — one that wasn’t conducted by a lobbying group — found very different projections. The coal industry would actually lose an average of 260 jobs per year, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. Those job losses would range widely year-to-year, though, varying from an estimated 41 jobs one year to 590 the next. The report also found that the regulation would have created 250 jobs a year in everything from engineering to bulldozer operations.

Jobs in renewable energy have seen enormous growth in the past few years — as alternative energy sources became more affordable, solar and wind industries have created jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, according to a report from the Environmental Defense Fund. Additionally, in 2016, one out of every 50 jobs created was in solar energy. Climate change advocates have expressed frustration that, by neglecting potential renewable energy jobs, the president and Congress are missing an opportunity.

"Trump's current approach is basically ignoring an entire industry that has grown up over the last 10 years or so and is quite robust," Liz Delaney, the program director at the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program, said in January.