Regardless of where you stand politically, Donald Trump’s election yesterday was an unexpected shock. There is no way to know all the environmental implications of his election, but we can expect significant deviation from the policies of the last eight years, and a return to the environmentally ruinous policies of the Bush/Cheney era.
This occurs at a time when public understanding and acceptance of the need to combat climate change is growing. We should be moving quickly to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy to reduce carbon emissions; instead it appears we will moving back to the era of “drill baby drill.”
Based on what I have heard and read, here are some of the known positions and statements of Donald Trump on the environment.
Climate change and air quality
- Cancel United States participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Our participation in the plan was the linchpin for getting 195 countries to agree to voluntary emissions reductions, and our withdrawal will like undermine the entire agreement.
- Stop the Clean Power Plan, which will require power plants in each state to achieve significant reductions in emissions.
- Reverse the Supreme Court’s “endangerment” finding that says CO2 can be regulated. In 2009, the EPA determined, based upon a careful review of the scientific record, that greenhouse gas emissions endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations.
- Undo other regulations that he concludes harm jobs in the fossil fuel industries
- Favor policies that promote coal, oil and natural gas for power generation
- Undo regulations on oil and gas fracking and power plant emissions
- Encourage development of fossil energy generally
- Possibly reverse policies that support renewable energy
- Revive Keystone XL pipeline; ease the way for other fossil fuel transmission lines
- In the past has said he doesn’t want energy development done in a way that damages public lands
- Encourage development of coal, oil and natural gas resources on public lands.
- Lift the moratorium on new coal leasing on public lands
- Make it easier to site pipelines and transmission lines on public lands
- Weaken or eliminate rules that govern oil and gas development on public lands
- Suggested more corporate sponsorships of national parks, but not necessarily in a way that makes them overtly commercial
- Give states more input on what happens on federal public lands
- Create more access to resource extraction on BLM lands
- Side with sportsmen on issues of hunting and management of public lands
- In the past has opposed the idea of state or private takeover of public lands
- May invest in invigorating public lands for all forms of recreation
- Undo the “Waters of the US” rule that clarifies the EPA’s jurisdiction over waters regulated under the Clean Water Act.
- Eliminate or substantially weaken the EPA
- Make all new regulations go through a ‘jobs’ test
- Eliminate existing regulations that he concludes cut jobs
What it means for us
We are at a crossroads for environmental and energy policy. Either we move quickly to reduce our carbon footprint in an attempt to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, or we backslide and leave a catastrophic mess for future generations. Failure to move forward for four or eight years will be ruinous if we hope to keep temperature increases to the level specified in the Paris agreement.
At a local level, we should continue to fight for regulation of oil and gas activity to protect our property, our water, and our communities. We should support the protests of those who are fighting to block unnecessary and illegal pipelines. We should take political action to fight for legislation at the state and federal levels. We should support candidates who will take responsible environmental actions. And we should make our voices heard at every possible moment to preserve our planet.
Yesterday’s election was a shock, but it is not the end of the world (at least I hope not). We all know that political progress is not continuous. It is at moments like this that we need to redouble our efforts.