As Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, his White House team posted his intent to eliminate former President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
According to the new White House, Trump’s America First Energy Plan will include getting rid of the environmental regulations that Obama put in place to protect the environment and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.
“For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry,” the plan reads. “President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.”
In 2009, Obama pledged to reduce the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions to approximately 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. His Climate Action Plan of June 2013 included a variety of executive actions but was rooted in three main commitments:
- Cut carbon pollution in the United States by placing tough new restrictions on carbon pollution similar to those on mercury and arsenic, and move the U.S. economy toward clean energy sources.
- Help state and local governments update infrastructure — including roads, bridges and shoreline protections — to deal with the impacts of climate change.
- Ensure the United States takes an international leadership role in handling the climate crisis.
In January 2013, during his second inaugural address, Obama emphasized the importance of having science-based and comprehensive policies in place for responding to and combating climate change.
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity,” Obama said in that address. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.”
In May 2015, with Obama’s support, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Waters of the U.S. rule to protect the nation’s waterways and wetlands from contamination. Obama vetoed an attempt by Republicans in Congress to overturn the regulation in January 2016. At the time, Obama said protecting rivers, lakes and other waterways from pollution is vital for ensuring the health of U.S. citizens and the success of the nation’s businesses and agriculture.
“As I have noted before, too many of our waters have been left vulnerable,” Obama said. “Pollution from upstream sources ends up in the rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and coastal waters near which most Americans live and on which they depend for their drinking water, recreation, and economic development.”
Whereas Obama was dedicated to combating climate change, Trump has variously called it a hoax and incorrectly said that nobody really knows whether it is real. The vast majority of professional scientific organizations agree that anthropogenic climate change is real and that it’s a serious environmental, health and economic threat.
Throughout the campaign, Trump made appeals to voters in regions with traditional energy industries, especially coal. Environmentalists are up in arms over his selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for administrator of the EPA and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state.
The American Geophysical Union released a statement saying, “Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.”
Similarly, the American Physical Society has characterized the evidence of global warming as incontrovertible. “If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur,” the group said in a statement. “We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”
Late last year, scientists started backing up key climate data available on government websites — fearing that it may disappear under the Trump administration.
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