Trump has launched a blitzkrieg in the wars on science and Earth’s climate

Today, Trump signed executive orders taking aim at America’s climate policies. On the heels of a report finding that the world needs to halve its carbon pollution every decade to avoid dangerous climate change, Trump’s order would instead increase America’s carbon pollution, to the exclusive benefit of the fossil fuel industry. 

Trump’s anti-climate executive orders

One part of the executive order tells the EPA to review and revise (weaken) its Clean Power Plan and methane regulations. However, revising these regulations isn’t so simple. It requires proceeding through the same years-long rulemaking process the EPA used to create the rules in the first place. This involves considering the scientific evidence, crafting draft rules, responding to millions of public comments, and defending the new plan in court. Environmental attorneys are confident “this is another deal President Trump won’t be able to close.

A second part of the executive order tells the EPA to ignore the government’s estimated price on carbon pollution. The Republican Party wants to lower the current estimate, but most evidence indicates the government is dramatically underestimating the cost of carbon pollution. Trump gets around this inconvenient evidence by ordering the EPA to simply deny the existence of those costs.

A third part of the executive order ends a moratorium on new coal leases on public lands before a review is completed to determine if taxpayers are being shortchanged due to the lands being sold too cheaply. Environmental groups are set to immediately challenge this order. Regardless, lifting the moratorium would have little effect on coal production or mining jobs.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt would undoubtedly be happy to follow Trump’s orders. In his previous job as Oklahoma Attorney General and fossil fuel industry puppet, one of Pruitt’s 14 lawsuits against the EPA was aimed at the Clean Power Plan. However, the Clean Air Act requires the government to cut carbon pollution. Trump and Pruitt may not like it, but the law, scientific evidence, and public opinion fall squarely against them.

Trump’s anti-science budget

A few weeks ago, Donald Trump released his first proposed budget, and it’s also fiercely anti-science and anti-climate.

Trump budget director on climate change funding: “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.”

Among other cuts, it would slash nearly one-third of the EPA budget, hundreds of millions of dollars from the NOAA research budget, and terminate four NASA Earth science missions as part of a $102 million cut to the agency’s Earth science program. 

The budget even goes as far as to propose eliminating Energy Star – a purely voluntary program that helps companies certify energy efficient products, saving Americans money while cutting carbon pollution in the process – possibly out of pure spite for the climate.

Trump has been consistently anti-science

Trump’s anti-science and anti-climate agenda doesn’t come as a surprise; before he even took office, there were early signs that Trump would put public health at risk by scrapping climate and other environmental policies. He began by nominating numerous anti-climate, pro-industry individuals to powerful positions in his administration. Those appointees quickly made their influence known, launching an inquisition into Department of Energy staffers who had worked on climate change, trying to gag government scientists, and scrap the EPA climate webpage.

In the face of public outcry, the Trump administration retreated on these fronts. But they regrouped, and over the past several weeks have surged forward with a rejuvenated attack on climate science, environmental protection, and the future of our planet and its inhabitants, to the benefit of big polluters with big wallets. Meanwhile, a Washington Post analysis found that Trump has moved to fill just one out of 46 key government science and technology positions. And for the position of presidential science advisor, he seems to only be considering climate deniers.

What on Earth does EPA stand for?

With its new administrator Scott Pruitt confirmed by Senate Republicans, “EPA” now seems to stand for “Environmental Plunder Agency.” In an interview on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Pruitt sounded more interested in trying to bring back coal jobs than in protecting the environment. To that, America’s top coal boss said:

I suggested that he temper his expectations ... He can’t bring them back.

In one of his first Tweets after taking the job, Pruitt spoke of the stakeholders whose interests he sought to protect:

I’m dedicated to working w/stakeholders - industry, farmers, ranchers, business owners – on traditional values of environmental stewardship.

Soon thereafter, the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology Policy mission statement no longer used the word “science.” A few days later, Pruitt rejected decades’ worth of climate science research, giving the following answer when asked on CNBC if carbon dioxide is the primary control knob for the climate:

No, I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So, no, I would not agree that’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.

Pruitt was wrong on both points – carbon dioxide is the main climate control knob (NASA scientists even published a 2010 paper with those exact words in the title), and there is a 97% expert consensus on this question. Predictably, Pruitt’s comments evoked harsh responses, not just from climate scientists but also from business, military, faith, and conservative leaders and elected officials. For example, leading climate scientist Kevin Trenberth said:

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Posted by dana1981 on Tuesday, 28 March, 2017

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