In an increasingly tumultuous world, Climate Change remains at the forefront of concerns for a great many Americans. Much has been said about what the upcoming Trump presidency means for the environment.
So far the President-elect has been fairly tight-lipped about his environmental policy. He has signaled that perhaps he is open to suggestions outside his party’s narrow scope of ideas on this matter, telling Fox News Sunday that “I’m very open-minded on environment”.
He also held a meeting at Trump Tower with Al Gore, which if nothing else is an olive branch to the many who have voiced environmental concerns. He has famously stated that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, among other things, so it is very hard to get a read on what he might do here. But as usual, the devil is in the details, and we must look beyond symbolic gestures and lip service to get to the heart of the matter…
Sharon Lerner of The Intercept did a fantastic job exposing the underlying philosophy of the men who will be calling the shots of our Environmental Policy. She focuses specifically on a policy paper published by the Competitive Enterprise Group, a think-tank formerly ran by Myron Ebell, the man Donald Trump has chosen to oversee the transition of the EPA. From her article:
Beyond laying out specific paths to destruction, CEI’s legislative roadmap helps explain the group’s twisted logic for attacking environmental laws in the first place, something that may be lost on the vast majority of Americans, who want clean air and water, accept the reality of climate change, and are not steeped in anti-governmental legal theory.
As CEI sees it, efforts to address the affects of pollution from fossil fuels on our climate are really a “war on affordable energy.” Bizarrely, the report uses a decline in global death rates due to extreme weather since the 1920s to justify the continued burning of oil and coal and its claim that carbon-based fuels “increase life expectancy.”
It is highly disingenuous to assert that a global decline in death rates is somehow attributable to increased fossil fuel consumption. Again from The Intercept:
While fossil fuels have unquestionably kept many people warm over the past century, alternative energy sources can also provide plenty of heat — and have the additional appeal of reducing the likelihood of extreme weather events.
Examining the philosophical blueprint behind the policies that are being put into place is an excellent way to cut through the rhetorical red tape. Ms. Lerner does a great job exposing the organizations’ agenda for targeting environmental regulations. This is a great read. All signals are that Mr. Ebell along Scott Pruitt, nominee for head of the EPA, are planning a full scale attack on the regulatory framework of our environmental policy.
Pillaging and Plundering
The attack on regulations and on relevant environmental agencies will be relentless and well organized. It could potentially pave the way for a boondoggle of epic proportions, and possibly shape the future direction of our climate policy. Look for huge infrastructure projects for oil pipelines and refineries, essentially amounting to a giveaway to the big oil companies. This will have the added bonus of being a ‘kickback’ to the working class who voted him in, in the form of new jobs.
And let’s make sure to keep a close eye on the goings on over in Russia, with our favorite ex-KGB Oligarch Vladamir Putin. Thanks to the cozy relationship that exists between him and incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, this could potentially be huge windfall for these old chums…
The United States’ commitment to the Paris Agreement is almost certainly in severe jeopardy. However, the international consensus on climate change will not be affected by the shameless corporate pandering of our political leaders. Our standing in the world with regard to this issue will almost certainly take a hit. Increasingly, other countries will step up and lead the way in adopting solutions to this crisis, as the United States steps down from its position of global leadership and heads inward in pursuit of grandiose dreams of a national renaissance.
It is also possible that this administration plans to institute a more nationalist environmental policy, one that puts the needs of America first, in keeping with his overarching policy theme. The world will continue to deal with these issues with or without us, and now more than ever honest, reasonable leadership is needed.
This Land is Our Land…
Lost in most of the mainstream debate is the fate of public lands, which face constant threat of privatization. Private companies have long been chomping at the bit to get a piece of these untapped treasures, from drilling the oceans, to logging in National Forest areas, to mining near the Grand Canyon. And you can bet they will gobble up every bit that they are able to.
National Parks could also potentially be in jeopardy of full or partial privatization, opening the door to fundamentally changing one of the gems of our national character. The protests at Standing Rock, which have garnered much attention lately, could face serious obstacles in dealing with the incoming administration.
No one can say for sure what the coming Trump presidency will mean for the environment, but you can read between the lines and predict with some accuracy what the future may hold. And so far, things are looking good for those whose paychecks are inversely related to the quality of air we breathe, and that is mighty inconvenient if you ask me…