Source: Washington Post | Steven Mufson & Brady Dennis | November 9, 2016
Donald J. Trump comes into office with a plan to toss out most of what President Obama achieved on energy and the environment.
While vowing to “cancel” the international Paris climate accord Obama championed, Trump would also rearrange domestic energy and environmental priorities. He wants to open up federal lands to oil and gas drilling and coal mining. He wants to eliminate regulations he calls needless. He would scrap proposed regulations for tighter methane controls on domestic drillers. And he wants to shrink the role of the Environmental Protection Agency to a mostly advisory one and pull back the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s proposed plan to push utilities toward lower carbon emissions.
Although Trump has portrayed himself as the ultimate outsider, in putting together a transition team the New York real estate mogul has chosen veteran Washington insiders, many of them lobbyists for fossil fuel companies and skeptics about climate science.
Oil industry executives were delighted.
“It sure looks a whole lot friendlier than it would have under President Podesta … I mean President Clinton,” Stephen Brown, vice president of government relations for the oil refiner Tesoro, said, referring to John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman who views steps to slow climate change a high priority and who led climate efforts under Obama.
Brown predicted that the Paris climate accord “will be scrapped quickly,” obstacles and “procedural hurdles” to infrastructure projects such as pipelines would be reexamined, and regulations about the social cost of carbon and other environmental impacts would be “gone.”
“The Clean Power Plan will die a slow death,” he said, adding that public lands permitting for oil and gas drilling would open up.
Only a day earlier, environmental groups had been planning to immediately press a President-elect Hillary Clinton to stick to a tough set of energy and environmental policies. Clinton had been adamant that she would follow through on the promises Obama made under the Paris climate accord, and vowed to defend and implement the Clean Power Plan and reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent in 2025, relative to 2005 levels. Yet environmental groups still believed they had to make sure she did not backslide.
Now the environmental groups that have helped shape Obama’s policies are on the defensive.
“We’re feeling angry and sad and contemplative,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “Trump is now, as president-elect, soon to be the only head of state on the planet that doesn’t believe in climate change, nor thinks we should do anything about it. That should strike fear in the hearts of every parent in this country.”
Asked how the environmental movement would deal with a President Trump, Bill McKibben, founder of the climate action group 350.org, said in an email “[I] don’t really know. I think it’s clear that he wants no part of environmental progress, and I imagine the damage from this election will be measured in geologic time. We will do what we can, but truthfully the path forward is not all that clear to me.”
Other environmental group leaders tried to rally their supporters, vowing to use any means they could to fight the reversal what they see as the positive environmental progress of recent years.
“Sixteen years ago when faced with the election of President Bush, the environmental community utilized the courts, the Senate filibuster, watch-dogged political appointees and galvanized the public to take action,” Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, said in an email early this morning. “We will have to take these same actions against a President Trump to protect the gains that the American people want for clean and clean water. After the fights to kill the Keystone XL pipeline, the fights to ban fracking, and the successful efforts to shutdown coal plants, the environmental movement is stronger than we have ever been.”