“I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.” – Hillary Clinton, November 29, 2015
Yesterday I wrote about climate change supporters, interferers and deniers. Today I shall take a look at what Hillary Clinton’s plans are in the area of climate change. This is such an important issue, and yet it is such a complex issue that it is difficult to summarize in a nutshell. Hillary’s platform includes the following:
- Defend, implement, and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan and standards for cars, trucks, and appliances that are already helping clean our air, save families money, and fight climate change.
- Launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy, including for low-income families. Read the fact sheet here.
- Invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development to make the U.S. economy more competitive and create good-paying jobs and careers. Read the fact sheet here.
- Ensure safe and responsible energy production. As we transition to a clean energy economy, we must ensure that the fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible and that areas too sensitive for energy production are taken off the table. Read the fact sheet here.
- Reform leasing and expand clean energy production on public lands and waters tenfold within a decade.
- Cut the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies have enjoyed for too long and invest in clean energy.
- Cut methane emissions across the economy and put in place strong standards for reducing leaks from both new and existing sources.
- Revitalize coal communities by supporting locally driven priorities and make them an engine of U.S. economic growth in the 21st century, as they have been for generations. Read the fact sheet here.
- Make environmental justice and climate justice central priorities by setting bold national goals to eliminate lead poisoning within five years, clean up the more than 450,000 toxic brownfield sites across the country, expand solar and energy efficiency solutions in low-income communities, and create an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force. Read the fact sheet here.
- Promote conservation and collaborative stewardship. Hillary will keep public lands public, strengthen protections for our natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands for all Americans, as well as harness the immense economic potential they offer through expanded renewable energy production, a high quality of life, and a thriving outdoor economy. Read the fact sheet here.
Ms. Clinton’s plan is comprehensive, complete with ideas of how to achieve her goals. Since it is impossible for me to cover it all here, please do take a few minutes to click on the links to the fact sheets, as they contain a wealth of information.
My concern is not with Ms. Clinton’s platform, per se, but rather with her ability to get legislation through a Congress in which, at last count, 170 elected representatives in the 114th Congress are deniers of the science of climate change. That is 56% of Congressional Republicans and 39% of Congress in total! I seriously considered naming each and every one in this post, but there is a great website that lists them all by state, includes a brief statement summarizing their views on climate change, and even has an interactive map. Please take a look and see where your own Senators and Representatives stand. List of climate change deniers in Congress
As we have seen during the past eight years, Congress has no compunction against sitting on their collective butts playing video games while significant and important proposed legislation falls by the wayside. Given the current environment of hostility toward Ms. Clinton, I cannot imagine that her policy proposals will fare any better unless this November brings about a significant change in the structure of Congress. Even with that, Ms. Clinton’s biggest challenge in this area is going to be finding ways to motivate Congress and the citizens.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 65% of Americans think climate change is a problem that the government needs to address, including 84% of Democrats and 43% of Republicans. 57% of those polled said they would pay at least $1 more on their monthly electric bill for climate action, including 29% who would pay $20 a month more, and 20% who said they would pay as much as $50 more! On the flip side, 42% of the respondents said they were unwilling to pay even $1 for such policies. Other results of the survey were:
- 54% of Americans (67% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans) favor federal regulations that would reduce U.S. coal use,
- Only a quarter of Americans are confident that the U.S. will meet its obligations under an international climate agreement reached in Paris last December, but eight in 10 say the country should still try to meet those responsibilities.
The bottom line is that a majority of U.S. citizens do see climate change as a critical issue and are willing to make some sacrifices to address the issue. This, I think, is what Ms. Clinton will need to use as her foundation, and build on it by finding ways to motivate and inspire people to send a clear message to Congress that they want action. This will be Ms. Clinton’s greatest challenge when it comes to developing cleaner energy and working toward our global environmental commitments.
Currently, 27 states, most with Republican governors, are challenging Obama’s Clean Power Plan in court. They say the lower emissions levels it would impose are an undue burden, despite the fact that most are already meeting the new standards, or close to meeting them. In the words of Cynthia Coffman, attorney general of Colorado, “We don’t have anything against clean air. That really doesn’t factor into my decision to say the federal government has gone beyond its legal authority.” Just like anything else, if the states stepped up to the plate, if they had taken initiative to reduce carbon emissions, develop renewable energy sources, then we would not need to impose regulations at the federal level. The states have had ample opportunity, yet they have failed. We cannot continue to ignore this problem, to engage in partisan game-playing, while we are destroying the earth.
Briefly let us take a look at Mr. Trump’s environmental proposals. As with several other issues, he does not have climate change listed on his campaign website, so we will have to look at what he has said:
- Trump rejects the scientific consensus on climate change
- “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
- “You want to have clean air, clean water. That’s very important to me.”
- Trump issued an energy plan focused on promoting fossil fuels and weakening environmental regulation
- Trump promised to “rescind” in his first 100 days in office a variety of Environmental Protection Agency regulations
- Trump has specifically pledged to revoke the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the United States rule, which he characterizes as two “job-destroying Obama executive actions.”
- Trump has vowed to revive the U.S. coal economy and re-open old mines.
- Trump implied that the regulations on hairspray and coal mining are both “unwarranted” and incorrectly asserted that hairspray use in a “sealed” apartment prevents the spray’s ozone-depleting substances from reaching the atmosphere. (You’ve really got to think about this one for a minute, folks!!!)
- Trump pledged in his May 2016 speech on energy policy to “cancel the Paris climate agreement”.
- “We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.”
How can anybody fail to see what a dangerous buffoon he is? Every one of his statements on climate change and environmental issues are a reflection of a lack of education, as well as a lack of concern for the planet we live on and for future generations.
Each of us is responsible for our environment. We must all do our part, but more importantly, we must do so collectively. No longer can we avoid the realities that mankind is destroying the environment and pretend we don’t see. While it will not happen tomorrow, next week, or even next year, at the current rate, eventually the earth will no longer be able to sustain life. The earth was not created only for us to have fun and make monetary profit, it was created to sustain life. Ms. Clinton’s goals are a major step in the right direction, but she cannot even begin to implement them without us. It is our responsibility to take climate change seriously, and to demand that our elected representatives do the same.