By Brooke Bauman
Donald Trump’s environmental policy is best articulated by a tweet he posted on Nov. 6, 2012, stating, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. non-manufacturing competitive.” Most recently, Trump characterized his views on climate change by stating that he was “open-minded” towards the progressive Paris Climate Treaty and would consider not pulling out of the agreement as he had suggested previously.
In this critical point in human history, climate change is going to take a turn for the worse unless it is swiftly addressed. As a powerful nation, the United States plays a crucial role in determining this path. Unfortunately, the man in charge of our nation has ignorantly denied that climate change even exists. The most disturbing aspect of this story, is that the American people chose Trump to be their executive leader despite knowing his background and the implications it would have on his environmental policy. As Trump has emphasized countless times, he is a businessman at heart and plans to run the country in a similar manner. In order to encourage industrial growth, Trump is willing to exploit natural resources and sacrifice sustainable practices. Americans must brace themselves for the impact this perspective will have on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy with incompetent department heads like Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry.
There is, however, one glimmer of hope for environmentalists who fear the change of policy at the federal level. State governments will become more important than ever as they attempt to check the power of the federal government by passing new laws and mandates. In particular, the mandate for renewable portfolio standards (RPS) has gained popularity recently and has been adopted by 29 states. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the portfolio entails that utilities, including most investor owned utilities and select municipalities and electric cooperatives, must sell a certain percentage of renewable energy. Despite this general movement towards sustainable energy at the state-level, there have been no surprises regarding which states joined the effort.
“The RPS trend can generally be regarded as green states getting greener,” explained Timothy Fox, a vice president at Clearwater Energy Partners, to Utility Drive.
This concept of empowering states is quite interesting considering that both Perry and Pruitt have personally advocated for states rights in the past. As the Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt aligned himself with some of his fellow attorney generals from other states to sue the EPA in 2015 over the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to minimize pollution from the electric power industry. The lawsuit will continue to work its way through the courts as Pruitt ironically assumes his position as head of the EPA.
On Jan. 20, Trump made his first move by deleting the White House’s climate change webpage, confirming his verbal plans to make significant changes. In the coming years, the struggle between state and federal governments over controlling the energy and environmental arena will become more profound and will have a direct effect on Americans.
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