President-elect Donald Trump has come out in support of oil expansion and says that climate change is not real, is not concerning. So, the question is — what does that mean to environmentalists in America.
In late October, Trump released a plan for his first 100 days in office. A couple of Trump’s promises to the American voters rang alarms to ditching the effort President Obama fervently represented as a supporter of environmental conservation.
Here are some of the concerning measures Trump promises:
- lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal
- lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
- “rescind” Environmental Protection Agency regulations established under President Obama to curb planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants.
“Regulations that shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants and block the construction of new ones — how stupid is that? We’re going to deal with real environmental challenges, not the phony ones we’ve been hearing about,” Trump was quoted saying in a New York Times article about his energy plan.
Lifting the roadblocks to the Keystone pipeline is concern enough. Starting from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, and then further connecting to another pipeline, the Keystone pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of oil each day. The further development of the oil fields in Alberta require a means of access for international markets, and seeing that many of North America’s oil refineries are based in the Gulf Coast, industry groups on both sides of the border want to benefit.
The project does have an upside; An increased supply of oil from Canada means a decreased dependency on the Middle Eastern market, the more oil in the market, the lower the price for consumers. Also, the infrastructure project would create 42,000 jobs over a two-year construction period, the US State Department estimates.
The dilemma comes down to whether the immediate benefits outweigh the potentially devastating consequences of the future.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) weighed in on the project, advising President Obama not to approve further construction of the pipeline. Taking the EPA’s opinion into consideration, and falling back on the recent push to invest in renewable energy resources, Obama vetoed the continuation of the pipeline.
“It’s argued by some that by developing the oil sands, fossil fuels will be readily available and the trend toward warming of the atmosphere won’t be curbed. Mr. Obama’s decision to approve or refuse the pipeline is therefore held up as symbolic of America’s energy future,” BBC news reports.
Trump’s support for the Keystone Pipeline, therefore, represents his stance on America’s future in terms of energy production. Furthermore, Trump intends to retract America’s support and involvement in the Paris Agreement. This action, by not follow through with the Obama administration’s pledge to cut emissions up to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, would not be followed by any legal consequences.
The most potentially threatening declaration is Trump’s decision to have the United States stop all payment of U.S. tax dollars toward global warming programs. Furthermore, since coal mining jobs have decreased, Trump vows to fully restore those numbers and bring back and save the coal industry.
Donald Trump’s presidency outlines the course of action for environmental policies for years to come, shaping how the United States will fare in international and national environmental approaches. After the President-elect’s reign, the question is, some environmentalists ask — will there be anything left to save?
(Commentary by Nick Cassidy)