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Editorial: States and 'people power' must lead opposition to Trump's actions on climate

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Posted on March 30, 2017 |
By Angelo S. Lynn



Part of Trump’s legacy as president will be actions states take to counter what he attempts to destruct. On immigration policies, health care, clean water, and climate change initiatives, states are fighting back with actions that will either stall the president’s actions or implement their own policies as state standards — much as many states, like Vermont, have done by refusing to help deport immigrants who have caused no harm. The states’ hope is to move the nation forward, rather than abide by Trump’s policies that would push the nation backwards into a third-world status.

But it won’t be easy. This week, with the stroke of a pen, Trump set in motion actions that could undo much of the good President Obama accomplished in his climate change initiatives. Trump’s plans include rolling back carbon dioxide emission standards on coal power plants, loosening the higher mileage-per-gallon goals of U.S. vehicles, and will allow more air pollution to cloud our skies, produce acid rain, and denigrate our waters, forests and the air we breathe.

 Why? Because Trump is a denier of climate science, and he is a proponent of corporate profits at the public’s expense.

One salvation is that the politics of Trump’s actions are against him. A solid majority of Americans agree with President Obama’s policies on climate change, saying they now recognize climate change is real, while almost 70 percent say they want to restrict carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plants — a main premise of Obama’s Clear Air Act, which was passed by Congress.

Trump’s embarrassing position, claiming that climate change is a hoax, is even outside of mainstream Republican orthodoxy and by reneging on America’s commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement, Trump, once again, relegates America to the backwaters of world leadership. In America’s place, European and Asian countries are stepping to the fore, perhaps including China, whose image as a world leader on climate change could, ironically, overtake that of the U.S.

It is shocking, but true, that Trump could cost America’s renewable energy industry the claim of world leadership — politically and economically. If Trump cuts scientific research and development funds, as he is proposing, he will send the best and brightest of climate scientists and renewable energy industries abroad where the energy of the future will be developed — and millions of jobs will be created. Trump’s shortsighted policies will cheat Americans out of those jobs while strengthening foreign competitors.

 To what gain? For the handful of jobs Trump might save in the coal industry — but those few jobs, many of which have already been replaced by automation, will soon be lost because coal power plants are no longer cost competitive with natural gas. That’s just dumb economics. And like Trump’s promises to present a health care plan that doesn’t cut benefits, reduce premiums and or cut Medicare or Medicaid, his promises to restore the coal industry to its once prominent position is all bluster; it’s snake oil; a con-man’s bait to get voters to bite out of desperation only to turn his back on them later. Sad, but just wait and see.

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Fortunately, a coalition of states, including California and New York, are fighting back and it remains to be seen whether President Obama’s climate change legacy can be completely undone before sanity prevails. According to the Washington Post, “legal experts say it could take years for the E.P.A. administrator to carry out the process of withdrawing and revising the climate change regulations, and the process will be hit by legal challenges (by states) at every turn.”

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York told the Posthe was preparing “to challenge any effort to do away with regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.” Such a move, he argued, “violated the Clean Air Act, as well as established case law.”

 “‘If they want to go back into the rule-making process, we believe they are compelled under law to come up with something close to the Clean Power Plan,” he told the Post. “They probably don’t want to hear this again, but if they want to repeal, they have to replace.”’

Still, it will be an uphill battle to prevent or slow-down the damage done to President Obama’s Clear Air Act and climate change policies. To that end, activists with Vermont-founded 350.org are organizing another mass march, called The Peoples Climate Marchin Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April 29 at noon. 350Vermont, a separate but affiliated group, will send 11 buses from across Vermont to the nation’s capital to participate and send a message to the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress.

Like the public outcry over changes to Obamacare, the best defense to Trump’s reckless policies is to publicly protest and build a movement to elect representatives in 2018 and 2020 that better reflect the nation’s priorities and reinstate America as a world leader for the public good — not for selfish, short-sighted interests.

Angelo S. Lynn

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