Given Trump’s belief that Climate Change is an “expensive Chinese hoax,” it is important to ask what will American environmental policy look like once he transitions to the presidency? Trump has made several statements about stripping down the environmental policies of the Obama Administration, so I wanted to research which initiatives will face likely danger and which might be more protected.
Policies At Risk
1. Paris Climate Agreement: Trump has pledged to withdraw the U.S. and “there’s little stopping him.” Trump can pursue a variety of actions such as backing out of Obama’s emission reduction pledge, refusing to attend U.N. meeting about the agreement, or denying funds to poorer countries looking to decarbonize. China has declared it will pick up the efforts in the wake of an American absence, but the withdrawal of the U.S. will likely have a negative impact on the agreement’s success.
2. Reduction of Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards: Fuel economy standards are pledged to increase from the current 35 miles a gallon to 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025. Automakers are lobbying Trump to relax this effort and he will “have plenty of leeway to weaken these rules.” However, states can also step in and curtail these efforts.
3. “Green Drift”: This involves the leniency to adapt and expend environmental laws that were purposefully made open-ended. Republicans have long hated this ability for green law updates/expansion. They have repeatedly put forth a mandate to force “every economically significant federal regulation” to need the House and Senate approval, plus presidential signature. This would drastically restrict the ability to evolve environmental legislation with the times. With the GOP House, Senate, and president, this mandate has “a very real chance to become law.”
Policies That Are Likely (Hopefully) Safe
1. The Clean Power Act : This act “mandates major cuts in carbon dioxide emissions for coal-fired power plants.” It puts a limit on greenhouse emissions to move toward cleaner energy.
2. The Wetlands Rule : This rule “extends federal cleanup to small bodies of water like farm ponds and streams.”
**Because these two policies are passed the 60-day threshold for Republicans to have to right to override, they would demand very serious bureaucratic effort to eliminate.
3. Solar and Wind Credits: Solar and Wind energy has long relied on these tax credits. There is some logic to believing these credits are safe for now as an advisor on the Trump transition team commented they will “remain in place.”
Fingers crossed that the decades of environmental policy progress will not turn over during a Trump presidency. A positive from his election success is the significant growth in public response to environmental needs. Citizens have increased resistance and outcries across the country. This is evident from the vast outpouring of donations to environmental groups after Trump’s victory. Maybe this surge in resistance and anger is something the environmental movement really needs…