After completing his first full year in office—an alarming year, at that— Donald Trump has concluded that climate change is not a significant national threat and that the sacred lands and waters of this country should be sold to the highest bidder.
The Trump administration has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement; deregulated national landmarks; freed public lands for drilling and mining; allowed coal companies to dump their sludge into fresh waterways; opened our coastline to offshore drilling; and appointed a climate-change denier with considerable conflicts of interest—Kathleen Hartnett White—to lead the Council on Environmental Quality.
Trump and the Republican Congress are doing their best to roll back key environmental protections that will have a devastating and lasting consequence for generations to come. Latest in the line of eco-unfriendly decisions is his proposal to gut funding for renewable energy research. The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration is preparing to ask Congress for deep budget cuts to the Energy Department’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, cutting them by 72 percent in fiscal 2019. This, while China and much of the world significantly ramp up their investment in clean energy research and production.
The Energy Department, led by former Texas governor and anti-environmentalist Rick Perry, has, surprisingly, urged Trump publicly not to make such a drastic reduction. Trump’s proposed budget, with congressional concurrence, will slash renewable energy initiatives from $2.04 billion this fiscal year to $636 million in 2019, a cut of more than two-thirds.
This news came a day after Trump’s rambling State of the Union address, ceremoniously applauded by Republican lemmings, in which he underscored his determination to promote the use of fossil fuels instead of renewable and cleaner forms of energy.
“We have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal,” said Trump, a snickering smile planted across his sneering expression.
War on American energy? The only struggle to speak of is the Republican Party’s continuing onslaught on the environment and science-based public policy. Trump’s proposed massive cuts to critical funding for renewable energy research is just one in a series of steps Trump and the Republican Congress are taking to show that they care significantly more about donations from major energy companies (such as Koch Industries) than combating the very real threat of global climate change and the contamination of our natural resources.
And, in a decision that puts every American coastal community at risk, the Trump administration has stated its intent to hand over vast reaches of waters currently protected from drilling—in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans—to the oil and gas industry.
Iconic fishing grounds, critical marine-breeding areas and precious recreational waters from Maine to Florida, California to Alaska and everywhere in between will see drilling rigs going up and be exposed to the perils of explosions, catastrophic spills and other risks that come with inherently dangerous industrial operations at sea.
Trump wants us to disregard the life and ecologically threatening dangers of offshore exploration and let the oil and gas industry have its way. Far from protecting coastal communities and the integral interests of workers, waters and wildlife, Trump is invested in putting fossil fuel profits first and all else at risk.
It is now universally accepted that burning oil and gas creates carbon pollution that drives climate change—warming our oceans, raising sea levels and producing catastrophic storms that threaten and, at times, obliterate coastal communities. And as the carbon pollution settles into our oceans, the waters become more acidic and wreak havoc on shellfish, coral reefs and other foundational forms of life at sea.
Protecting the waters that sustain life on this planet begins with ending our reliance on fossil fuels as quickly as possible and investing in clean, renewable energy. This country should be at the forefront of doing more with less—using the sun and wind power—to facilitate its energy needs.
To think otherwise is selfish, self-serving and unpatriotic.