Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

Trump Election 2024 Would Doom Efforts To Reduce Climate Change

Phil Garber


Climate change is an equal opportunity destroyer, it attacks red states and blue states with equal ferocity. Climate Armageddon knows no boundaries. Forget all your woke concerns. Compared to the fate of the planet, worries about transgender people invading MAGA bathrooms are like a flea on a lion’s back.

Trump, the false savior, would sell the nation’s and the world’s environmental soul to return to the White House where his plans to reverse environmental laws would doom any hopes of ever reversing climate change.

Trump claims he is a climate change denier. Rather, trump is what he always has been, a blatant, skilled opportunist. That is why he had the trumpian audacity in hold the oil industry hostage if they don’t give him $1 billion in campaign funding.

At a dinner meeting of more than 20 oil industry executives at Mar-a-Lago last month, trump promised to eviscerate Biden-era environmental laws in return for a combined $1 billion in campaign contributions. Trump is selling out the nation and the world for money he desperately needs to pay his exploding legal defense bills.

The oil giants would agree to the solicitation not so much to reelect trump but to make sure Biden is not reelected as he is a paramount threat to the fossil fuel industry. Biden has called climate change an “existential threat” and signed the most ambitious climate law in U.S. history. Biden’s aim is to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

A group of environmental advocates including the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters have determined that the Biden administration has taken more than 300 actions towards greater public health and clean energy, more than any other administration in U.S. history. Measures included the first major climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act , which has propelled record investment in clean energy including solar and wind and increased sales of electric vehicles.

And while U.S. energy emissions declined by 3 percent this year, the U.S. extracted more oil and gas than ever, reaching almost 13 million barrels of crude oil a day, more than double the production levels a decade ago.

Trump’s plans would only exacerbate carbon dioxide levels in the air. He has consistently denied that climate science is legitimate and that the climate crisis is real. He has called the climate crisis a “hoax,” a “make-believe problem” and “nonexistent,” despite the fact that experts across the globe overwhelmingly agree the planet is warming due to human-controlled factors.

Biden wants electric vehicles to account for more than half of vehicle sales by 2030 and a carbon-free electricity system by 2035. Trump has railed against vehicle emissions regulations intended to speed the shift to electric cars, vowing to reverse what he called Biden’s “ridiculous Green New Deal crusade.”

Trump told the oil executives he would slash the Biden administration’s tax credits for electric vehicles and spend less government money developing wind power. Trump has long claimed electric cars will “kill” America’s auto industry and that the Biden administration “ordered a hit job on Michigan manufacturing” by encouraging the sales of electric cars. He has spoken of imposing a “100 percent tariff” on electric cars manufactured in Mexico but imported into the United States. “Now if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a blood bath for the whole. That’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a blood bath for the country, that’s going to be the least of it. But they’re not going to sell those cars,” trump said on March 16.

Trump made his uneducated positions on wind clear in a December 21, 2019, speech at a conference of the trump-supporting group, Turning Point USA.

“I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it [sic] better than anybody I know. It’s [sic] very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none,” trump said.

He claimed that windmills created “tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere.”

Further critiquing clean energy supporters, trump said,So they make these things, and then they put them up, and if you own a house within vision of some of these monsters, your house is worth 50 percent of the price. They’re noisy, they kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard? You just go, take a look, a bird graveyard? Go under a windmill someday. You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen ever in your life.”

In his first administration, trump withdrew the U.S. from the historic Paris climate accords. He has boasted that if reelected, he would be a “dictator” for one day when he would take the shackles of oil companies and let them “drill, drill, drill.”

Biden has ordered a pause on liquefied natural gas export approvals while trump would likely end the pause and promote more offshore oil and gas leasing.

Trump’s wrangling has the earmarks of the so-called Teapot Dome scandal of 1921 when sale of oil leases led to prison for the nation’s interior secretary. It was a bribery scheme involving the administration of President Warren G. Harding. Federal oil reserves at the Teapot Dome in Wyoming and in California were secretly leased by Interior Secretary Albert Bacon Fall to oil companies at low rates with no competitive bidding. In return, Fall got hundreds of thousands of dollars in Liberty Bonds.

More recently, the trump administration was rife with corruption, including a trumpian version of the Teapot Dome scandal. That involved the 2018 resignation of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke who stepped down amid probes into mismanagement and possible ethical misconduct at Zinke’s agency. The most serious probe by the Department of Justice looked at whether Zinke, a former Montana Congressman, used his position to influence a real-estate deal in the state. Zinke was not charged but resigned under a cloud of suspicion.

The trump administration was in bed with big oil from the start. Trump appointed Rex Tillerson, the former CEO for ExxonMobil, as secretary of state. The same day Tillerson was confirmed by the Senate, the House voted to kill a transparency rule for oil companies that Tillerson once lobbied against while CEO of Exxon Mobil. The vote killed an Obama-era regulation that required publicly traded oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose any payments that they made to foreign governments, including taxes and royalties. Around this same time, the White House applauded ExxonMobil’s decision to expand investments in several Gulf Coast projects.

In the recent Mar-a-Lago meeting, executives represented mammoth oil companies Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Continental Resources; natural gas producer EQT, gas exporter Cheniere Energy and the trade association, the American Petroleum Institute.

Many of the same oil executives have been drafting plans for trump to end the Biden administration’s pause on new natural gas export permits, expand the number of offshore drilling lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico made available by Biden’s Interior Department and reverse Biden’s ban on oil drilling in the huge, ultra-environmentally sensitive Alaska Natural Wildlife Refuge.

Experts consistently warn about a coming cataclysm because of climate change. Most recently, scientists reported that evidence is mounting that further degradation of the environment is creating a world in which diseases may be increasingly apt to fester and multiply. The report noted that infection-spreading life forms like mosquitoes and ticks thrive in an atmosphere warmed by a blanket of fossil fuel emissions. Research published in the journal Nature also found that herbicides and fungicides damage ecosystems, creating losses in biodiversity that leave surviving populations vulnerable to illness.

A spread of diseases in the animal world could trigger “spillover” events exposing humans to new pathogens like COVID-19 and the ongoing spread of H5N1 bird flu.

Extreme weather, caused by climate change, also continues to strike the nation and the world. Tornadoes, possibly caused by climate change, have hit the United States every day for two weeks straight and more dangerous storms are forecast. Risk areas were reported from Texas to the Southeast and curving toward the Mid-Atlantic.

In Texas, large to giant hail was a major concern. In the Deep South, damaging winds mixed with roaring jet stream winds. At least three people died because of the storms in Tennessee and North Carolina, and hundreds of thousands of customers lost power. About 200,000 remained in the dark Thursday morning — the majority in North Carolina and Tennessee. In Phelps County, Mo., grapefruit-size hail was reported while baseball-size hail fell in western North Carolina.

In Brazil, more heavy rain is expected, as the South American nation grapples with the deadly fallout of last week’s extreme weather, which submerged whole neighborhoods. The heavy rains and floods have killed at least 107 people in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul since last week, the state’s civil defense agency said Thursday morning. Some 1,476,000 people have been affected with at least 754 people left injured and about 164,000 displaced. At least 134 people are still missing.

Harvard Law School’s Regulatory Rollback Tracker identified 75 major areas where environmental controls were diluted or recommended, under trump. Among them:

The trump administration made it easier to lease public land for oil and gas drilling, enabled the expansion of offshore drilling, proposed making 85 percent of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska available for oil and gas drilling and amended a rule that reduced toxic air pollutants from petroleum refineries.

The trump administration refused to strengthen the Obama rules for ozone, also known as smog, which regularly covers cities like Los Angeles. Ozone forms when pollution from power plants, oil refineries, chemical plants and cars reacts to sunlight. Under trump, rules were rolled back prohibiting the hunting of bears and other predators in Alaskan national preserves and protections were removed for the endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The administration lifted restrictions on mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and changed the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, making it harder to protect animals and plants.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 international Paris climate agreement. A total of 197 nations around the world agreed to voluntarily cut the heat-trapping pollution that is causing the climate crisis. The aim of the agreement was to keep global heating to 2C above pre-industrial temperatures.

Under trump, the Clean Water Act was weakened, giving the federal government more power to overrule state objections to projects and pollution safeguards were narrowed for lakes, rivers, tributaries and wetlands.

Trump proposed speeding up the environmental review process for companies seeking oil and gas drilling permits in national forests. It opened up drilling on 9 million acres of public land in the west, which are the habitat for greater sage grouse.

Trump abandoned efforts to reduce emissions from large sewage treatment plants, and delayed implementation of a rule intended to limit pesticide exposure to agricultural workers.

The prior administration weakened toxic pollution and water rules for coal plants and reduced requirements for plants to treat the water they use to remove toxic contaminants before putting it into rivers and lakes. Climate standards for new vehicles were weakened.

A moratorium on new coal leasing on public lands was lifted and enforcement was loosened of an air quality rule for states that pollute across state lines.

The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines were approved. The administration authorized oil and gas leasing on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain. It is the last large untouched wilderness in the U.S. and is located in the north-east extremity of Alaska. The 19 million acres of tundra, streams and mountains that make up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to creatures ranging from polar bears to hundreds of bird species, as well as a migratory caribou herd vital to the sustenance of the Gwich’in native people.

The administration repealed a rule to prevent coal mining companies from dumping waste in streams, reversed rules for methane pollution from oil and gas operations and rescinded requirements limiting super-polluting refrigerants.

It weakened protections on hunting, capturing or killing migratory birds, rolled back fracking regulations that protect drinking water on federal and tribal lands, weakened regulations on pesticide use in National Wildlife Refuges, halted a rule that tightened air pollution standards for offshore drilling operations and proposed weakening pesticide regulations meant to protect agricultural workers.