Trump’s Program: Betraying the Planet for Profit
March 28, 2017
Above, Ben Santer: “If the program is to advance ignorance, then I’m not with the Program.”
Important point here:
Any minute now: “Nobody knew how complicated this climate thing is.”
Given the fact that Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate, described climate change as a “hoax,” cooked up by the Chinese as part of an elaborate conspiracy, it doesn’t come as too big of a surprise that Trump, as a president, would go after his predecessor’s Clean Power Plan. It did, however, come as a surprise to see Trump deliberately mislead some of his supporters about his approach.
NBC News summarized today’s developments, noting the president’s latest executive order.The order asks the Environmental Protection Agency to review Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and is considered one of the past administration’s signature pieces of climate policy. The plan’s implementation was already put on hold by the Supreme Court in February of 2016.This is clearly a major development, but it kicks off a larger conflict. As Vox’s report explained, “Trump’s administration will now spend years trying to rewrite rules and fend off legal challenges from environmentalists. And it’s not clear they’ll always prevail: Some of President Obama’s climate policies may prove harder to uproot than thought.”That’s certainly true, though it’s still an international embarrassment for the United States to abandoned its leadership role; it risks exacerbating the existing crisis; and it makes it very unlikely we’ll meet our own goals and targets as part of the Paris Accord.
But as this process unfolds, it’s worth remembering that much of today’s regressive shift is built on falsehoods – and not just about science.
USA Todaynoted, for example, “The order makes good on Trump’s promise to end what he called a ‘war on coal,’ and to bring back coal jobs. ‘I made them this promise. We will put our miners back to work,’ Trump said Tuesday.”
No, actually he won’t.[T]he US coal industry is dying regardless of anything Trump does, said industry experts, with fewer than 100,000 jobs now largely concentrated in Appalachian states.
“It won’t add any coal jobs, but it will set back the country as a leader on the environment,” finance director Tom Sanzillo of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis based in Cleveland told BuzzFeed News. Coal is a declining industry that serves up a product, energy, that costs more than wind, solar, and natural gas.
“That isn’t going to change and the fundamentals are inescapable,” Sanzillo said. “Nobody in the industry has a serious plan to reverse that.”
Robert Murray, head of the largest private US coal firm, Murray Coal, for example, told The Guardian on Monday that Trump should “temper his expectations” on reviving coal industry jobs, adding: “He can’t bring them back.”A New York Timesreport added, “[C]oal miners also should not assume their jobs will return if Trump’s regulations take effect.” The article an energy economist added that “we could see a decrease in coal jobs,” even with Trump’s regressive agenda.
Even as climate science has steadily improved, the U.S. climate debate has descended into a partisan mess, with a once-great American political party embracing rank reality-denial. The nation has now reached an anti-intellectual nadir, elevating a man who called climate change a “hoax” to the presidency and a climate-change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The country reaped the fruits of this decision Tuesday, when Mr. Trump signed an executive order to unwind Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan and several other important climate rules.
The practical effects will be serious though not immediate. The Trump administration will have to rewrite federal regulations, which takes time and will encounter stiff resistance from environmental groups with many lawyers. Between now and 2020, other federal policies will continue to put some downward pressure on emissions. After 2020, the absence of the plan will be felt. According to an Energy Information Agency assessment released in January , energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions would have declined significantly between 2020 and 2030 — not by enough, but it would have been a decent start. Without the plan, these emissions will stay roughly the same over that crucial decade. And, by the way, energy experts predict no coal renaissance in Appalachia, despite Mr. Trump’s campaign promises, because the economics simply do not make sense in a country awash in cheap natural gas.
The nation had a climate policy. Now it does not. If Mr. Trump has a plan that would significantly cut greenhouse emissions in a smarter way than Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan — indeed, a few senior Republican statesmen offered one just a few weeks back — he should propose it. Instead, the president has put the country on a know-nothing path to an endangered planet.