The United States has always been a world leader, not just because of its superpower status or wealth or military or industrial might, but also because it leads in scientific innovation, civil liberties, women empowerment and issues like climate change.
Former President Barack Obama instituted environmental protection laws to reduce carbon emissions and curb climate change. Obama even called climate change a threat to national security.
However, his successor Donald Trump seems to be determined to dismantle Obama’s climate legacy to accomodate his own beliefs about climate change and environmental protection.
Soon after announcing that EPA will be trimmed down to size, both in jobs and budget, President Trump has now started to reverse major executive orders regarding environmental protections put in place by his predecessor. He also wants to review the Clean Power Plan, an Obama regulation to cut use of fossil fuels for electricity.
This is not surprising, coming from a man whose position on climate change is that it’s a hoax. Trump once tweeted that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to derail US economic competitiveness. Also not surprising is that Scott Pruitt, the new EPA chief, thinks that carbon dioxide is not a major environmental pollutant, as years of climate science research has proved; and who regularly sued the EPA as Governor of Alabama.
The justifications provided for dismnatling these laws are interesting. One, that green regulations ‘kill’ jobs in America. Second, that the coal industry will suffer because of these green laws. Thirdly, that removing these laws will create new jobs in the oil and gas industry.
The new regime wants to ‘balance’ economic development with industrialization, apparently. They think that environmental laws can’t be had at the cost of economic development. This is also geared towards Trump fulfilling one of his campaign promises- bringing coal jobs back.
Critics say that the coal industry didn’t suffer due to Obama’s carbon restrictions, but due to the mercury pollution associated with burning the fuel. On top of that, cheap natural gas as a new resource for power regeneration means it will be harder to being both coal industry and coal jobs back.
Environmentalists have said they will challenge the new rulings in court.