This month in climate change denial

By John Mecklin | October 10, 2017

In the months between Donald Trump’s election and inauguration, there was much speculation about whether he would really, as president, reverse the United States’ course on climate change. One Politico piece is emblematic of the hopeful-wishiness of environmentalists who wanted to believe Trump would not be as bad as he said he’d be. Headlined “Ivanka Trump, climate czar?”, the article suggested that the president’s daughter “wants to make climate change—which her father has called a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese—one of her signature issues, a source close to her told Politico. The source said Ivanka is in the early stages of exploring how to use her spotlight to speak out on the issue.”

Of course, the First Daughter hasn’t said much about the environment in recent months. But her father has done plenty to make it clear that he intends to reverse the federal government’s course, so US climate change policy runs counter to climate science and to the efforts of most of the world to constrain greenhouse gas emissions.

This week, for instance, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, announced that the agency would seek to repeal the Clean Power Plan, “President Barack Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming.” (The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts said they would sue the federal government when repeal is finalized.)

The effort to undo the Clean Power Plan followed on the heels of Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission require “its organized markets to develop and implement reforms that would fully price generation resources necessary to maintain the reliability and resiliency of our nation’s grid.” In practical terms, the proposed new rule would give subsidies to nuclear power plants and coal-fired generating facilities, essentially promising them profitability, on the theory that they are required for the stability of the nation’s electrical grid. In its own understated, wire-service way, Reuters pointed up the hornets nest Perry’s proposal had stirred, saying “the opposition to Perry’s call by … 11 groups that include lobbyists for natural gas, solar and wind power, and power consumers is an indication the Trump policy could put industries in direct competition with one another.”

But the breadth of the Trump administration’s efforts to overturn climate and other environmental regulations is best seen not by looking at the trees of individual policy initiatives, but at the forest of climate and environmental rules the administration is trying to set afire. The New York Times provides a good (if depressing) accounting of this attempted arson in “52 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump,” an interactive list that provides fascinating detail on this mind-boggling environmental assault, including the lobbyists who have pushed each regulatory change.

Whatever will Ivanka say?

Publication Name: New York Times
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