since January, and, so far, it’s been plagued with drama. One of the most debated topics has been the environment. Early on in his campaign, Trump promised to help coal and deregulate corporations. Such promises may not sound terribly threatening, but they do belie the thought process behind the current administration. So far, Trump’s stance has been a stark contrast to his predecessor, Barack Obama.
One of the biggest points that the candidate Donald Trump drove home was his commitment to coal workers. He promised to bring coal back but that’s likely an impossible challenge. Coal is heading out, both because there is only so much available and because the rest of the world is heading towards renewable resources.
To try and make good on this promise, Trump took steps to roll back some Obama-era regulations on the fossil fuel industry. At the end of March, he signed the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.
This action lifted the moratorium on new coal leases and ordered a review of the Clean Power Plan, both put in place by Obama. The Clean Power Plan had the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
The Paris Agreement
Scott Pruitt made headlines when he was elected as head of the EPA, for a variety of reasons. One of the most pressing was that he was well known for being involved in 14 different lawsuits against the agency he was now in charge of. Since then, he has made headlines again for recommending that the US exit the Paris Agreement.
Pruitt and Trump’s ideas are a sharp divide from the other 197 countries that have ratified the agreement. This administration’s separation from the rest of the world should come as no surprise, given Pruitt’s opinion on climate change. Even as head of the EPA, he has expressed doubt over the existence of human-caused climate change. At the time of writing, this contradicts the general scientific consensus.
For the time being, the rest of the Trump administration has said it’s reviewing the data on climate change. It has not yet announced a formal stance on the subject one way or another.
Trump has also put forth a budget proposal for his administration. Although funding continues for most programs, there are some significant cuts. Social and welfare programs are facing proposed cuts — but so are science agencies. One of the most interesting aspects of the budget is that it doesn’t seek to eliminate funding for agencies. The goal is to cut funding for any research related to climate change.
The EPA is facing some serious budget cuts. These cuts are likely to have a powerful effect on its effectiveness as an agency, assuming the budget is approved. The current budget proposes a $2.6 billion cut from the agency, which is about 31% of its total budget. This has the potential to not only stop climate change research but to completely handicap the agency.
The EPA wasn’t the only agency to face cuts. The proposed budget also slashes cuts to NASA, specifically cutting their budget for climate research. It cuts funding for NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, by 20%. All in all, the proposed budget does exactly what the administration stated. It stops spending money researching climate change.
Regardless of your opinion of this administration, the stance they have taken on climate change is unsettling. It doesn’t matter if we fund research for it or not, the planet’s environment will keep changing.
The research that is being defunded helps scientists study the trend all around the world. As part of the European Union, or the EU, the United States participates in one of the largest scientific “group projects” in the world. If the budget cuts go through, the US will no longer be a large contributor. We will lose funding for potential new innovations, which could generate jobs for an entire new industry.
This administration has taken a step away from scientific consensus. It’s also taken one away from innovation, and supporting the potential growth of a new industry. The environmental policies coming from top administrators are worrying.
This is a guest post written by Kate Harveston.
Kate Harveston is a freelance writer and blogger. Her writing focuses on politics and the environment, with a particular emphasis on social change. You can follow her writing by visiting her blog, Only Slightly Biased.