Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Asian American environmentalists decry Trump executive order dismantling climate change regs


YEAR 2016 was the hottest year on record, according to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the third year in a row heat records were broken. The inevitable war between Donald Trump and the environmental movement is also getting hotter.

Today, March 28, Trump signed another executive order - this one is just one step in trying to undo the environmental regulations instituted under the Obama administration.

"Putting America first means preparing our nation for the storms and extreme weather that are impacting us as a direct result of climate change," said Rep. Ami Bera, D-CA, a member of the House's Science, Space, and Technology Committee. "Putting America first means continuing our role as a global leader in reducing carbon emissions. 
"Our work over the last decade to reduce carbon emissions put America first -- and this irresponsible executive order throws into uncertainty how we prepare for and tackle the very real consequences of climate change" said the Indian/American medical doctor.
The order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to redraft regulations related to carbon emissions at power plants, eliminates guidance calling for the consideration of climate change when making federal decisions, allows for federal coal leasing, and promotes the development of gas and oil on public lands.

Obama signed the Clean Power Plan into law in 2015, but industry opponents have kept it in litigation. It has yet to take effect, and Trump's EO is calling to revise and rewrite Obama’s landmark climate plan.

“Perhaps no single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers and companies more than this crushing attack on American industry,” said Trump.

Trump surrounded himself with coal workers when he signed his EO claiming that his action would bring back jobs. Industry experts say the number of coal-mining jobs around 70,000. There's no debating that jobs were lost in the coal-mining regions, most notably in Appalachia but that was not due to environmental regulations.
Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, told The Guardian that despite people’s belief that loosening environmental restrictions could bring back jobs, “the industry likes to point to pollution standards for the decline in jobs, but the reality is the market has markedly changed.”
The fact is, natural gas is cheaper and renewable energy - solar and wind - not only are more economically competitive but  the industry also employ 3 million people.

Trump’s anti-environment executive order:
  • Dismantles Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which limited carbon pollution from power plants
  • Alter limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry
  • Halts efforts to prepare for extreme weather events
  • Lifts a moratorium on the leasing of federal land for coal mining
  • Removes a rule to account for the social costs of carbon
  • Revokes an order calling on agencies to consider climate change in environmental impacts
Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Asian/American environmentalists condemned the newest presidential executive order and the administration's position on climate change, which Trump has claimed is a hoax  perpetuated by China.
“Today's actions only deepen our dependence on fossil fuels and all the danger and damage they bring. And they protect a deeply-flawed system that has bilked taxpayers for decades to the tune of tens of billions of dollars,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Nevertheless, Trump trumpeted the jobs he alleges his EO will produce.
“This is an all-out assault on the protections we need to avert climate catastrophe. It’s a senseless betrayal of our national interests. And it’s a short-sighted attempt to undermine American clean energy leadership," said Suh, a Korean/American who from 2009 to 2014 served as assistant secretary of policy, management and budget for the United States Department of the Interior.
“Trump is sacrificing our future for fossil fuel profits - and leaving our kids to pay the price. This would do lasting damage to our environment and public lands, threaten our homes and health, hurt our pocketbooks and slow the clean energy progress that has already generated millions of good-paying jobs," she said. 
The Trump administration is rejecting the advice of 1000 businesses, over 75 mayors and millions of Americans who are calling for strengthened policies on climate change. Instead, the Administration wants to decide America’s environment and energy future based primarily on consultations with the fossil fuel industry—namely the American Petroleum Institute, Independent Petroleum Association of America, ConocoPhillips, and the coal company Peabody Energy.

“Working people from coast-to-coast are already feeling the devastating health impacts of toxic air and water caused by corporate polluters who for too long have gone unchecked," said Filipino/American Luisa Blue, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union. "By undoing the Clean Power Plan, President Trump is reverting our communities to unhealthy and unsafe living conditions to benefit corporations over our communities. We can have a vibrant economy and vibrant communities with clean air and water.”

“By cutting carbon pollution from power plants, it aims to spark innovation, drive investment and energy efficiency to create jobs and save families money. Most importantly, it has the potential to address power plant pollution in the communities most vulnerable to asthma and other health impacts,” said Vien Truong, director of Green For All. “It’s clear that Trump is determined to protect the fossil fuel industry, no matter the cost. Green For All will continue to stand with frontlines families and our most vulnerable to enact policies that create jobs and cut carbon pollution to protect the health of our kids.”

Besides Bera, other AAPI congressional representatives were strongly dismayed by Trump's action.

“While the President can afford to live in this alternate universe, Hawaii and other island communities are forced to grapple with the reality of climate change, said Hawaii's Sen. Mazie Hirono. "Our coral reefs are dying because of historically high ocean temperatures. By 2100, Hawaii’s sea levels will rise by more than three feet. We owe it to our keiki to listen to our climate scientists, and build upon, not erase, the progress we’ve made.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-HI, said: "Unless we make a concerted effort to reduce carbon emissions, invest in clean energy, create green jobs, and improve our air and water quality, we are moving backwards, at a time when our planet simply cannot afford for us to do so. In spite of this action today, I have no doubt that Hawaiʻi will continue to lead the nation in renewable energy production. We must continue investing in renewable energy, moving away from foreign oil and fossil fuels, and moving toward our goal of 100% clean energy by 2045."

“Today’s executive order will not bring back jobs nor will it make us more energy secure. What it will do is increase pollution, threaten public health, and risk the ruin of some our most treasured public lands," said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA. "Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time – one that we cannot wait to address – and the United States cannot afford to cede its leadership in addressing it."

“The science is clear on climate change. ... It is our moral responsibility to protect our environment for future generations and to justly transition our economy from fossil fuels to clean energy, providing sustainable jobs to our communities. This executive order is a huge step in the wrong direction," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA.