There are those who say wind turbines are an eyesore, that they ruin the landscape. But have you ever seen a strip mine in coal country?
Which do you think is the greater eyesore? The picture on the right was once a beautiful green mountain, but this is what it looks like after the coal was extracted.
Today, Don Trump decided that he would much rather turn nature’s beautiful mountains into that picture on the right side, above. Today, Don Trump signed a new executive order titled “Energy Independence” that is even more potentially destructive than the rest of his orders have been. (Note that the man who was going to “make America great again” has, thus far done nothing constructive, but has attempted much destruction!) The order directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan.
Surrounded by coal miners, he signed with a flourish and stated, “C’mon fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says? You’re going back to work.” Jackass. The order also lifts a short-term ban on new coal mining on public lands. Jerk. The order will all but ensure that the United States cannot meet its global warming commitments under the Paris accord.
“We’re ending the theft of American prosperity and reviving our beloved economy. The miners told me about the attacks on their jobs. I made them this promise. We will put our miners back to work.”
While the coal industry executives may be applauding and singing happy tunes today, there is more to the story than meets the eye. There are some real world facts to be considered:
- Regulatory relief could restore 10 percent of coal companies’ lost market share at most — nowhere near enough to return coal to its dominant position in power markets and put tens of thousands of coal miners to work.
- Improved drilling techniques over the past decade have made natural gas a much more economical option than coal. Most utilities have already reduced their infrastructure and they already have commitments geared toward natural gas.
- Wind and solar power are also taking market share, as the costs of utility-scale generation have become competitive with those of hydrocarbons in many parts of the country.
- By the end of last year, 29 states had adopted rules to replace a substantial share of fossil fuel electricity production with cleaner power. California is far ahead of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan in environmental stewardship, and promises to resist the federal government’s new agenda. The existing state mandates alone are on track for meeting 20% of the nation’s energy needs within the next 8 years.
- Federal tax credits for wind and solar enacted during the Obama administration will continue for at least several more years, and they have the support of Republican members of Congress from states producing wind power, like Texas and Iowa.
Nicholas K. Akins, chief executive of American Electric Power (AEP) said, “Our plans remain the same. We’re going to invest over the next three years $1.5 billion in renewables … This industry is moving in a direction that really moves toward a clean energy economy. That’s what our customers expect, that’s what our shareholders expect.”
And speaking of customers, a recent (January 2017) study by Pew Research found that fully 65% of Americans give priority to developing alternative energy over fossil fuels. Apparently, for all his bluster and his faux claims, Don Trump has failed to listen to the voices of the American people, the citizens, taxpayers and voters. Most in this country would prefer wind turbines to destroyed mountains, and most have come to understand that we simply cannot continue to destroy our environment, as we have been for so many years, without suffering devastating effects.
Earlier this month, with Trump’s blessings, the State Department granted the pipeline giant TransCanada a permit for Keystone construction to re-start, and Trump halted the initiative to impose stringent fuel-economy standards for automobiles, saying, “The assault on the American auto industry is over.”
The mining of coal is dirty and harmful to the environment, as is the burning of the ore. Scott Pruitt, Trump’s puppet EPA Administrator, said today’s executive order would “be both pro-jobs and pro-environment.” The reality is that it will be neither. It is yet another ‘alternative fact’. What it will do is contribute further to the destruction of our environment, but not only our environment … the global environment. When we dump CO2 into the atmosphere, it does not only affect the air we breathe, but it spreads the poison around the globe. This is why nearly every country on earth has committed to try to reduce carbon emissions. Quite frankly, every other nation on the globe has a right to be very angry at Trump over his recent anti-environmental moves. In large part, Trump likely knows that nothing he has done will add a measurable number of jobs to the economy, but rather, he is driven by an obsession to ‘undo’ whatever President Obama did, such as repealing ACA with no viable alternative on the horizon. This is exactly the wrong way to lead a nation, and it is why I claim the entire Trump administration is a circus … nay, a nightmare! We The People deserve better! We The People DEMAND better!
* Note: John Podesta, an advisor on climate and energy policy to President Obama and campaign chair for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, has written a very good Op-Ed piece on this topic that is worth reading.