In a shocking upset that has warped our perception of reality, climate change denier Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential race. The newly elected 45th President of the United States has indicated he’ll work to reverse the progress made in the battle against climate change. From pulling out of the Paris climate agreement to promoting fossil fuels to limiting the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to undoing President Obama’s work on the Clean Power Plan, Donald Trump’s proposed energy policies may gravely impact the environment.
Mere days after the Paris climate agreement went into force, the United States elected an individual who has been on a rampage to jerk the United States out of the historic agreement. The Paris climate agreement was 20 years in the making, and offers a starting point for nations to attempt to alleviate the effects of climate change as people from island nations to Florida are already grappling with climate change-caused sea level rise. Trump has said he’ll yank America out of the agreement, but French environment minister Ségolène Royale said it won’t be so easy for Trump to follow through. She told The Guardian the Paris agreement “prohibits any exit for a period of three years, plus a year-long notice period, so there will be four stable years.”
While that statement may provide a sigh of relief for many Americans, Trump will likely also work against progress at home. He said during his campaign he will cancel “billions in climate change spending,” putting that money towards “clean water, clean air, and safety.” But his proposed appointment of fellow climate change denier Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to head an EPA “transition team” signals Trump likely wants to undo many of President Obama’s climate policies. For example, under his new limited EPA, government might not strongly enforce Clean Air Act regulations.
In terms of energy, Trump’s plans are dirty. He has said we need “much more than wind and solar,” pointing instead to something called clean coal. He’s said he wants to tap into American shale gas and even build the Keystone XL pipeline. He supports fracking and regular old coal.
As so many of the lines that come from Trump’s mouth are lies, will he follow through on his threats or will he actually work to move the country forward? Either way, he is likely to have the support of a Republican-dominated House and Senate. President Obama was able to pass many clean energy measures by utilizing executive powers, but now Trump will obtain those powers. Time will show how he chooses to use them.