By Rhea Suh, Natural Resources Defense Council
With the perils of unchecked climate change widening by the day, President Trump took another giant step today toward surrendering our future to the fury of rising seas, flooded croplands, raging wildfires and torrential storms.
In scuttling the 2015 Clean Power Plan, he’s trying to shut down one of the most effective laws we’ve brought to the fight to leave our children a livable world. Beyond bad policy, Trump’s actions are illegal. We’ll use our courts to hold him to account.
The Clean Power Plan called for cleaning up the power plant pollution that accounts for 35 percent of the nation’s carbon footprint. Trump should be strengthening the plan, not killing it. As a fig leaf, he’s replacing the plan with the Orwellian-titled Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, a do-nothing imposter that enables the dirtiest plants in the country to continue choking the atmosphere with unlimited tons of the carbon pollution that’s driving us toward a climate catastrophe.
We’ll soon file a lawsuit that details the many ways Trump’s approach ignores the public’s demand for climate action, violates the Clean Air Act, and cooks the books on the science behind climate change, air pollution, and the true costs and benefits of addressing both. We’ll call for the courts to reject Trump’s sham ACE rule and compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the Clean Air Act.
Trump’s attempt to derail the Clean Power Plan fits the singular theme of his climate policy: Protect polluters and leave our kids to pay the price.
He’s working to withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement—a triumph of American leadership that helped to rally China, India, and every other country in the world around actual plans to cut or curb carbon pollution.
With seven in ten Americans favoring federal action to address the climate crisis, Trump is trying to turn the federal government into a propaganda arm of the fossil fuel industry. He’s putting crank climate deniers in charge of climate science and misleading the public on the mounting costs and growing dangers of his failure to take action on the central environmental challenge of our time.
He’s installed former fossil fuel lobbyists to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Interior. At the U.S. Geological Survey, long the source of authoritative data about rising seas and other climate impacts, scientists have been told to stop projecting such effects after 2040—when sea level rise is set to accelerate at an alarming rate. And he’s considering setting up a dark-ops shop to undermine climate science within the EPA itself. What we don’t know will still hurt us. By then, though, Trump and his Greatest-Show-on-the-Flat-Earth circus will have long left town.
Meanwhile, the White House is poised to roll back national clean car and fuel efficiency standards that require cars and light trucks to double their gas mileage and cut their carbon pollution in half by 2025. That’s important: These vehicles contribute about one-fifth of U.S. carbon emissions. More miles per gallon means less carbon pollution per mile driven.
Trump’s new standard, expected later this summer, would reportedly slash the fuel efficiency target from 54.5 miles per gallon, on average, to 37 miles per gallon. In terms of tailpipe pollution, that’s like increasing the number of cars on the road by one-third, compared to the more ambitious standard. And it will cost our families billions of dollars a year at the pump.
That’s no accident. Trump’s clean car and fuel efficiency rollbacks were pressed by covert lobbying funded by the oil industry. One executive gloated to investors that Trump’s rollback was worth nearly 17 million gallons a day in gasoline sales. That translates into $48 million at current prices and 340 million pounds of additional carbon pollution—every single day.
This is more than just the usual mix of Trumpian babble and bluster. The president is doing real damage. We’re hurtling down the road to disaster in a truck with no brakes, and Trump is stepping on the gas and throwing the toolbox out the window. In the process, he’s abolishing policies that support American jobs and long-term prosperity.
Nearly 3.3 million Americans go to work each day helping us to become more efficient, so we do more with less waste; to build some of the best all-electric and hybrid cars in the world; and to get more clean, homegrown power from the wind and sun.
Analysts project $8.4 trillion in worldwide clean energy investment over the next three decades. For American workers to be winners in that global economic sweepstakes, they’ll first have to win at home.
There may be no higher test of leadership than the kind of world we leave to our children. Trump is condemning future generations to climate danger and ruin we know we can avoid. That’s not leadership—it’s betrayal.