He’s at it again. Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Tuesday, March 28, entitled the “Energy Independence” executive order. I don’t know if Mr. Trump even truly understands the definition of energy independence- not relying on a store of unrenewable resources in order to power our country, as well as not relying on foreign countries for our power. It’s possible- but only by investing in new green energy sources that are 100% renewable. Those energy sources will create sustainable jobs which will be around for years to come- unlike the jobs that are tied to energy sources like coal which won’t be here for much longer.
In fact, it’s clear the Donald Trump does not understand these things. This is based on the content of the new executive order, which ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to begin the process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan put into place by Barack Obama. IT also targets several smaller Obama-era environmental and climate policies. These include lifting a ban on new coal mining on public lands.
So, why is this a disaster for the environment? Well, to begin, think about our public lands. These lands are set aside for the preservation and conservation of our natural heritage. Places that are meant to be sacred for the enjoyment of all. These are the places where our children should be creating memories and ties to nature, and where parents should be teaching their children how precious our environment is. These are a valuable piece of American heritage and history, our most lovely and sacred places. At the risk of sounding ignorant, how does mining these places for profit and energy “Make America Great?”
The second issue with pausing this mining ban is that the logic behind it isn’t exactly sound. According to the New York Times, Trump said to the mining industry,
“C’mon fellas. You know what this is? You know what this means…you’re going back to work.”
This couldn’t be more wrong.
Yes, some older coal plants might be able to stay open longer, and others will be able to stay in operation, however the mining industry is actually becoming increasingly mechanized, so there really isn’t a need for hiring in the industry anymore anyway. There are no new jobs to be created in coal, the way that technology and the economy are going. And the assumption that the Trump administration makes that this executive order will revitalize a dying industry just underscores how uniformed and out of touch with reality it is. Furthermore, the coal industry doesn’t represent a large or growing portion of our economy, so targeting that industry in particular for job growth just doesn’t make sense.
Not only that, but the United States actually imports a large amount of coal and natural gas that fires our power plants. So by rolling back the Clean Power Plan, it doesn’t necessarily bring back any mining jobs. Additionally, unpausing the mining ban only brings back mining jobs short-term—until the coal runs out.
In addition, The New York Times also reported that even though the executive order doesn’t necessarily take aim at the United State’s Participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement (the one that almost every country in the world signed committing us to take steps to tackle climate change), it affects our ability to meet that commitment. In fact, the Times noted that
“Experts note that if the Trump program is enacted, it will all but ensure that the United States cannot meet its global warming commitments under the accord.”
This is because that in order to truly meet our climate commitments, we need all hands on deck- everyone needs to be working to reduce our emissions NOW, as if our lives depended on it—which they do. And orders like this one, which take aim at dismantling progress, do the exact opposite of that.
Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist from Princeton University, says that the order, “sends a signal to other countries that they do not have to meet their commitments—which would mean that the world would fail to stay out of the climate danger zone.”
Take a moment to take that in. With one sweep of a pen, Donald Trump’s ignorance may have doomed the future of humanity’s habitation of this planet. The future of the planet and our children for the rest of the foreseeable future.
Are you listening yet???
So what can we do? We’re not president. We don’t make laws. Congress can’t repeal executive orders, so you can’t lobby your congresspeople and your senators. What you can do is vote with your dollars. Invest in clean energy. Put a small set of solar panels on your house. Don’t support companies that invest in coal or dirty energy. Do your research. And don’t support legislators who take money from those companies either.
Be empowered. Speak up for clean energy and do everything else in your power to protect our planet from climate change. Since our government won’t protect the planet right now, we have to take matters into our own hands.
Oh, and pray for this presidency to be short—VERY short.
Photo Credit: The New York Times