Within hours of Donald Trump swearing the oath of office his new administration had wiped all signs of President Obama, renewable energy, and climate-related policies from the official White House website, signalling what many feared would be a purge of all the work President Obama did for the environment.
However, marching to its own drumbeat, California has announced new regulations that aim to reduce oil refinery emissions by 20% by 2030, in direct contradiction to national policy changes expected under President Trump.
Though it should come as no surprise, the swiftness with which the new Trump administration managed to wipe evidence of President Obama from the official White House website nevertheless boggles the mind. More specifically, webpages that we know once existed have been wiped from existence (mostly: an archived version can be found here):
- https://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/climate-change – gone
- https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/social-cost-of-carbon – gone
- https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-record/climate – gone
Hello, Trump — Goodbye, Earth
In their place, the Trump administration has posted “An America First Energy Plan” — continuing the nationalist rhetoric Donald Trump surprised as all with in his Inauguration speech. “Energy is an essential part of American life and a staple of the world economy,” the page begins. “The Trump Administration is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil.” All of which sounds OK, except for the underlying message implicit in its content — especially considering the immediately following words:
“For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.”
So, that bodes well.
Does Donald Trump have alternatives he intends to pursue then? Oh you bet he does:
“Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own … The Trump Administration is also committed to clean coal technology, and to reviving America’s coal industry, which has been hurting for too long.”
In fact, each and every paragraph of this new America First Energy Plan is one warning bell followed by another. Not only is Donald Trump promising to “achieving energy independence from the OPEC cartel and any nations hostile to our interests” (cartel, really?) but the America’s “need for energy must go hand-in-hand with responsible stewardship of our environment.”
Oh … that bodes well. What is Donald Trump planning?
“Protecting clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources will remain a high priority. President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.”
… never mind. I forgot that it had long been the plan of Donald Trump and his nomination for head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, to ensure the EPA could no longer impose regulations on harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Apparently they are pushing forward with this under the guise of focusing the EPA on protecting the air and water — the same air and water that Donald Trump is going to imperil by increasing coal production and removing the Waters of the US rule.
An Unsurprising Reaction
Unsurprisingly, the administration’s actions have not been welcomed by many:
“It’s truly disturbing that one of the first actions by the Trump administration is to remove nearly all references to climate change from the White House website,” said Sam Adams, US Director, World Resources Institute. “This puts the new administration at odds with the vast majority of America’s scientists, military community and business leaders on this issue.”
“The website’s lone climate reference is to eliminate the Climate Action Plan, which is a wholesale attack that flies in the face of common sense and would do harm to all Americans. Smart climate action, including support for the renewable energy industry, will create good jobs and new opportunities for people across the country. By expanding the renewable energy sector, the administration can help replace the shuttered factories that President Trump referred to in his inaugural speech.”
The only bright spot in all of this that I can find from the last few days is the work of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which on Friday announced plans to reduce oil refinery emissions by 20% by 2030, continuing the state’s aims to have the country’s strictest air-quality rules. The new rules are part of the Board’s proposed plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.
“Climate change is impacting California now, and we need to continue to take bold and effective action to address it head on to protect and improve the quality of life in California,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “The plan will help us meet both our climate and our clean air goals in the coming decades and provide billions of dollars in investments to cut greenhouse gases, smog and toxic pollution in disadvantaged communities throughout the state. It is also designed to continue to drive creative innovation, generating good new jobs in the growing clean technology sector.”