President-elect Donald Trump has a lot of people worried. Worried about their healthcare, their reproductive rights, and the citizenship of their friends and family. But perhaps the most worrying effect of a Trump presidency is one that could have drastic effects for each and every one of these groups as well as all of Trump’s supporters, too.
The issue is climate change, and you wouldn’t be alone if you forgot about it during the campaign season — it seemed like both the Democratic and Republican candidates did, too. It was an issue that was largely ignored during presidential debates — Clinton and Trump devoted a combined total of just five minutes and 27 seconds to discussing the issue, despite a Gallup poll indicating that Americans are more concerned about climate change than they have been in almost 10 years.
Now that the election is (finally) over and Trump has won, his stance on climate change and environmental stewardship will get translated into policy. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, that isn’t great news for the earth. Here’s what we can expect for several key eco-issues:
Trump has publicly stated that he does not believe in climate change, in one case calling it a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese government. Trump taking the Oval Office will make the United States the only developed country in the world to be governed by a leader who denies the imminent threat of global climate change. Both this skepticism and his pandering to working-class voters frustrated with lost jobs in waning fossil fuel industries paints a pictured of a leader who will undo many of the advancements made during the past eight years under the Obama administration.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
While it’s difficult to know exactly what Trump will do based on what he said during the campaign season, he’s already made one strong statement by appointing Myron Ebell, well known as a climate change skeptic, to head the transition team for the EPA. Ebell believes more federal lands should be opened for logging, coal mining, and oil and gas exploration. He heads the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an advocacy group funded in part by the coal industry, and he’s never shied away from clashing with anyone who has the goal of preserving the environment.
Clean Power Plan
National Geographic reports that Trump “… has voiced plans to eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. … The Clean Power Plan was first proposed in June 2014 to put limits on greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants.” Not content to eliminate restrictions from fossil fuel plants already in operation, Trump has also stated his desire to shift spending toward creating an energy policy that leans heavily toward fossil fuels, rather than green energy sources such as wind or solar power.
Trump has also repeatedly promised to pull the United States out of the historic Paris Agreement, a move that has China urging the U.S. to reconsider and French president Nicolas Sarkozy musing about adding a carbon tax to U.S. goods. The Paris Agreement unites more than 195 countries in a pledge to reduce carbon emissions, and the involvement of the United States is no small matter given the country’s power and influence on the world stage, not to mention the fact that the U.S. is the second-largest producer of greenhouse gases.
Adding to these two dismal plans is the shocking development that Trump may be coming after one of America’s proudest legacies, its national parks. Grist reports: “On his campaign website, Trump promises to ‘streamline the permitting process for all energy projects,’ which will likely mean cutting back environmental review, and ‘encourage the production of [fossil fuel] resources by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters.'” This change in permitting process has many — including the former chief historian to the National Park Service interviewed for the article — concerned that a Trump presidency will mean open season for oil and gas exploration and drilling.
What can we do to resist the backward march of Trump’s environmental policies? Object. Object loudly and repeatedly, in person or via phone call wherever possible. This is no time to get stuck in the echo chamber of Facebook friends and Twitter followers who agree with you — contact your government representatives and make sure they know whether you agree with Trump’s proposed appointments, his policy changes and his threats to pull out of climate change deals. Make sure your government knows how important this issue is to you. How important it is to all of us.
This is bigger than party politics and it’s certainly bigger than one man and a four-year term in office. Find the name and phone number for your state representative here and make your voice heard.
Learn more about how how environmental policy is set in the article “Politics and Environment: How D.C. Works.”
Featured image courtesy of Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com