It’s a familiar scene in households where a toddler or two reside. Mommy is going through the house picking up the toys, and other detritus left behind by the toddler, and the toddler is going right behind her, tossing all the toys right back into the middle of the floor. Only in this case, “Mommy” is all the nations on the globe except the U.S., meeting in Poland for the COP24 where they debate the best ways to keep greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere. And the “toddler” is Donald Trump, alleging to represent the United States, seeking to put more of those same gasses into the atmosphere. Only difference is that mommy can pick up the toddler and stick him in a playpen or high chair, distract him momentarily, and finish the clean-up. Unfortunately, the other nations have no power to curb Donald Trump’s destructive urges.
The latest is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to revise its “New Source Performance Standards” for coal power plants, allowing coal-fired generators to emit more CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity generated. In short, it is a reversal of one of the Obama administrations regulations that requires new coal plants to invest in technology such as carbon capture and storage.
EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, made quite clear what the priorities are, and a clean environment, a sustainable Planet Earth, are definitely not in the equation:
“By replacing onerous regulations with high, yet achievable, standards, we can continue America’s historic energy production, keep energy prices affordable, and encourage new investments in cutting-edge technology that can then be exported around the world.”
I’m not sure who Mr. Wheeler thinks will be buying all that coal, though, for most all nations are investing in renewable energy sources and are hoping to sever the bonds of fossil fuels as soon as possible. And who, Mr. Wheeler, will mine that coal or buy it when there are no humans left on this earth?
Think of it this way … a classroom of children are each making cards for their mother for Mother’s Day. Every child is engrossed in cutting, pasting and colouring that special card for mum. Except one … little Donnie. Not only is little Donnie sitting with his fat little arms crossed and a scowl on his face, making it clear that he has no intention of making a card for his own mother, but he periodically gets up, walks over to another student and rips their card, or pours ink on it, throws it on the ground and stomps on it. This is what Donald Trump is doing … he is refusing to allow the U.S. to do our part to try to combat the disastrous effects of climate change, but he is determined to ruin the efforts of other, more conscionable nations.
“This is just one more foolhardy move by a misguided administration that will be judged harshly by future generations.” – David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Climate & Clean Energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Today’s proposal is nothing more than another thoughtless attempt by the Trump Administration to prop up their backwards and false narrative about reviving coal at the expense of science, public safety, and reality.” – Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
This is not the first action of Trump and his minions to attempt to revive a dying coal industry. Prior to this, he rolled back regulations regarding carbon emissions and mercury emissions, as well as coal ash. What’s next? A requirement that every household install a coal-burning furnace?
The reality is that his actions will not save the coal industry. It is a dinosaur headed for extinction, and in this case, the sooner the better. U.S. coal consumption has declined over the last decade and this year is expected to be at its lowest level in 39 years. Coal has struggled in the U.S. to compete with cheaper electricity produced from natural gas and renewable energy. And along those lines, there is some good news …
Xcel Energy, which provides electricity to 3.6 million customers in eight states, has become the first major U.S. utility committed to delivering 100 percent carbon-free power by 2050.
Equally remarkable, the plan Xcel announced on Tuesday promises an 80 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The company stated that “its 2030 goal can be achieved affordably with renewable energy and other technologies currently available.”
According to CEO Ben Fowke …
“This risk of climate change isn’t going away and we want to be the company that does something about it and hopefully inspire others to do something about it too.”
Do you hear that, Mr. Donald Trump???
Xcel has said it can already buy new renewable power plants for less money than it costs to simply operate existing coal plants. In August, Colorado state regulators approved an Xcel plan to shutter two Colorado coal plants and replace them with renewables plus a battery storage, while saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.Colorado’s governor-elect, Jared Polis, said …
“One of the great things about this transition is it will create tens of thousands of good, green jobs that will never be outsourced. It’s not only about carbon; it’s also about cleaner air, which means people will be healthier. We’re showing the country the way.”
Do you hear that, Mr. Donald Trump???
There are cities, states and corporations within the U.S. that are determined, despite the whims of Trump and his wealthy cronies, to work toward a sustainable environment, but they cannot do it alone. We need a federal government that puts life before profit. We need a federal government that helps and supports efforts such as those being made by Xcel Energy and others.
Lest you fail to understand the urgency, a report released Wednesday by a consortium of researchers known as the Global Carbon Project finds that global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are likely to have increased by about 2.7% in 2018, after a 1.6% increase in 2017. That’s a 4.3% increase in just two years!
Do you hear that, Mr. Donald Trump??? You are killing us all in your quest for more wealth!