Donald Trump has moved to reverse the measures taken by Obama administration to try and mitigate the climate change problem.
President Trump on Tuesday took the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions.
The sweeping executive order — which the president signed with great fanfare in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Map Room — also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.
The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as President Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots. The president did not utter the words “climate change” once, instead emphasizing that the move would spur job creation in the fossil fuel industry.
The order comes after several moves by Trump to roll back Obama-era restrictions on mining, drilling and coal- and gas-burning operations. In his first two months as president, Trump has nullified a regulation barring surface-mining companies from polluting waterways and set aside a new accounting system that would have compelled coal companies and other energy firms to pay more in federal royalties.
The administration also has announced it will reconsider stricter fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks and has approved two major oil pipelines, Dakota Access and Keystone XL, that Obama had halted.
The president thanked the miners onstage twice during the ceremony, and as they gathered around him when he signed the executive order, he looked up and remarked, “You know what it says, right? You’re going back to work.”
U.S. coal jobs, which number about 75,000, have been declining for decades. A senior administration official who briefed reporters Monday evening did not predict how many jobs might be spurred by this shift in policy.
Of course, Trump’s claim that coal jobs will come back is nonsense. Those jobs are not coming back in any appreciable numbers because coal has ceased to be viable not because of environmental regulations but because natural gas and other forms of energy have made energy from coal not competitive in price. What he is doing is making sure that the US falls behind other countries in the global push towards alternative, sustainable sources of energy. All that these moves do is allow him to have a photo op with miners and claim an easy ‘win’ after experiencing a series of humiliating setbacks on substantive issues.
Scott Wagner, a Pennsylvania Republican state senator, has his own theory for why the Earth seems to be getting warmer.
He also took the stance that climate change is probably happening, though–citing scientifically unsound evidence–he maintained that the US shouldn’t worry too much about emissions.
“I haven’t been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year–you know the rotation of the earth,” Wagner said. “We’re moving closer to the sun.”
He added, “We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies. So is heat coming off? Things are changing, but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can.”
Wagner is a good example of how people, when they strongly want to believe something, will seize upon any idea that sounds even remotely plausible to justify their beliefs. Wagner should go back to a science class because somewhere, Wagner’s former science teacher is yelling, “Don’t blame me! I never taught him that!” To Wagner’s credit, at least he accepts that he Earth is getting warmer, unlike some of his fellow Republicans who deny even that.
It is interesting the different forms that climate change denialism takes. Some deny that it is happening at all. Others say that it may or may not be happening and more evidence is necessary. Others say that while it may be happening, it is part of the ‘natural’ cycle of the Earth warming and cooling. Others say that the effect is too small to matter. Others say that it might be beneficial for the Earth to warm. Others say that it is happening and may be serious but it is not due to human behavior.
The one common thread among all these viewpoints is that they all result in the conclusion that nothing should be or needs to be done and that all the measures taken to curb fossil fuel emissions are an expensive waste of money and effort that is killing jobs, which neatly fits in with the fossil fuel industry’s desires for greater profits. The leaders of the fossil fuel companies know that their industry is dying. What they want to do is make as much money as quickly as possible before they abandon it (and the coal miners) and reversing the regulations will advance that goal.