It was not so long ago that the 45th president of America was taking in oath, the infamous Donald Trump, and already a lot of things have happened. The very next day after his inauguration millions of people worldwide marched in protest during the Women March on January 21st. This was a clear indication that the world was not happy with the sexist comments Trump had come up with during his campaign.
Trump has also been busy since his inauguration. He has already made a lot of decisions and signed a lot of papers, which will influence the process towards a greener world. There has already been a lot of articles written about him and ‘greens’ around the world are actively raising awareness about this through various media platforms.
Shortly after taking the office Mr. Trump posted six different issues on the White House webpage. One of these was the ‘America First Energy Plan’. During this the new administration explains that they will eliminate ‘harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule’. They will instead create more jobs through digging coal and oil, which they believe will bring several millions of dollars to the country. The administration will also focus towards ‘clean coal technology’, which is a technology that purifies the coal before it burns, so that is seemingly minimizes the amount of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particles put into the air.
The president does not suggest any replacement for any of the climate regulations, he intends to remove, but simply goes on to state that the removal of these will bring money and security to America.
Trump and the Keystone XL pipeline
As promised during his campaign Donald Trump has approved the known Keystone XL pipeline, which has been heavily debated not only politically but also nationally. The pipeline could impact local communities, water supplies and cultural heritage sites.
Environmentalist also opposes the project, because it will encourage the development of Canada’s oil sands, which is a type of oil resource that requires even more energy to tap than old-fashioned reserves.
Backers of the Keystone project say that it will help reduce the reliance on oil, America has from the Middle East, and allow the country to fulfill its energy needs from one of its closest allies. It will also help bring a significant number of temporary jobs through construction work, though long-term the pipes does not need much labor to operate.
Donald Trump and the EPA
It is still unknown how many of the laws and executive orders giving under the previous government will be cancelled out or removed. The executive orders Obama declared during his rule can easily be outdone by the new president, Donald Trump, by him simply executing a new order. These executive order includes for example a moratorium, which Obama put on selling coals from federal lands. He also directed all federal agencies to take climate change into account, whenever they made their formal reviews.
EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency in America and this agency’s rules will be harder for Trump to overrule. Under the Obama administration the EPA issued a number of complex regulations. In order for these to be overruled it would take a lot of paperwork and the new rules would have to go through a longer formal rulemaking process. The Trump administration would also need to have a solid argument for why these rules should not be in place and the excuse for it ‘being too expensive’ is not enough of a valid point.
The congress could also use their power to overturn some of these EPA rules. An almost unknown law states that they can with a majority vote overrule EPA rules made after late May 2016. This is however very time-consuming and the congress has enough on their plate as it is, so it is unclear whether they will use this power or not.
Another rather successful way the new administration could hinder the EPA is through major budget cuts. With not enough money the EPA will have a hard time keeping up with monitoring pollution and installing new rules effectively.
The EPA has already been told to shut down their climate change page on their website, which will remove several years of climate research. Researchers are currently scrambling to save some of the data, while trying to negotiate with the president and asking him to preserve at least some of it.
EPA protections seems to be broadly popular with the public and when Ronald Reagan was a president, he also tried to take down the EPA in the 1980s, which ended up going badly for him. We can only hope the same will happen for the new administration.
The good things
Before the election Trump claimed that the idea of climate change was simply a Chinese hoax, but now the Trump administration is sending mixed signals. On one hand they wish to lift restrictions on the coal and oil industry, but on their webpage they also acknowledge that protecting the environment is a priority. The administration claims that they wish to refocus the EPA towards ‘their essential mission of protecting our air and water’. Preserving natural habitats and Americas resources remains also a high priority, according to their website.
The new administration also wish to hold the wind power industry accountable to the millions of birds they kill each year. Private individuals, oil producers and natural gas producers in America all pay severe penalties for killing bald eagles, even when the killings are inadvertently. Somehow, the wind power industry has gone free despite of them killing 1.4 million birds and bats every year, including endangered and protected species like the bald eagle.
What the future holds is definitely exciting and – depending on which side you stand on – a little scary. We can only wait and see what will happen and do our parts in the meanwhile, to ensure that we will end up with the future that we actually want.
Article from Vox: Donald Trump is preparing to make massive policy changes at the EPA
Article from The Economist: Environmental policy under Donald Trump
Article from Reuters: Trump administration tells EPA to cut climate page from website
Article from CNBC: Trump signs executive actions to advance Keystone XL, Dakota Access pipelines
Article from Independent: Donald Trump will eliminate landmark climate protection plan, says first post on White House website
Article from Forbes: Trumps energy policy: 10 big changes
Article from bbc: Trumps ‘control-alt-delete’ on climate change policy