Today, Donald Trump will sign an executive order at the Environmental Protections Agency cutting Obama-era regulations enforced by the government.
The Trump administration claims that protecting American jobs is more important than protecting the environment, and will roll back policies that prevent coal mining on federal lands. It will also mandate that the federal government conduct a review the Clean Power Plan Initiative (which caps power plant emissions), and identify rules that are “impediments to American energy independence.”
The order demonstrates a shift in values from the Obama administration to the Trump administration, and is primarily based upon a false choice between jobs, American energy independence, and protecting the environment.
Good environmental policy regulates pollution and comes with innovative new opportunities in clean energy industries, such as wind and solar power. Good environmental policy puts science ahead of dollars and ensures that people are not at risk for danger and disease so that a company can make a profit. Good environmental policy prevents careless decision-making by government entities that prod disasters, such as lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan or toxic waste dumps into rivers.
The Trump administration is showing itself to be disconcertingly backwards when it comes to both environmental regulation and economic innovation. Here’s a hint: those coal jobs are not coming back. Cutting the EPA will certainly cost federal jobs aimed at finding ways to improve the environment and regulate pollution in private industry.
Environmental groups have voiced their outrage at the undoing of policies that are aimed at slowing climate change. According to CNN, Tom Steyer, the president of NextGen Climate, blasted the executive order:
“These actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American. Trump is deliberately destroying programs that create jobs and safeguards that protect our air and water, all for the sake of allowing corporate polluters to profit at our expense.”
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