Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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Trump: Human Health, the Environment and Profit

Sustainable living on a sustainable planet!

Let’s hand our children a healthy planet!

The changes being enacted will have a huge effect on public health and the environment

By Dr. John J. Hidore

April 5, 2017—-Millions of people are astounded at the sudden change in the position of the government of the United States on such issues as public health, public education and the environment.. The policies of our national government changed in an instant when Donald Trump was elected president and the Republican Party retained control of the House of representatives and the Senate. The platform of the elected president was to return the nation’s policies to another time when corporations ruled supreme with no regulation. At the beginning of 2017, the majority of the states already were under control of people that wanted to set the United States back to another time. With the election of the president, the Republican Party began planning for the takeover of the United States government. They are moving rapidly to make sure their agenda is in place.

President Trump’s Goals on Public Health and the Environment

The current president has filled his cabinet with men and women that have made it their business to use whatever means necessary to do two things. (1) eliminate or bypass the regulations this country has established to protect its citizens against heavy handed treatment by individuals and corporations, (2) to remove all regulations that protect the natural resources that sustain life on the planet. Many of the newly appointed government officials have publicly denounced or denied that global warming and climate change are real in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They have also started to cut many social services in favor of free enterprise.

The Barefoot College

Gandhi’s Philosophy: The small villages must be empowered.

The Environmental Protection Agency

One of the primary organizations, whose purpose it is to protect the public from adverse environmental changes and provide safeguards for natural resources, is the EPA. There are (or were at the beginning of 2017) more than 9000 employees in the EPA. They included men and women from a variety of sciences along with management personnel. The EPA was established in 1970 by congress to protect and to create and maintain a healthy environment for the people of the United States. In past years it has set an example for the rest of the world. The clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act were both created by the EPA.

Global Greenhouse Gases

Climate Change

Scott Pruitt: An Opponent of the EPA

Less that a month after his election, President Trump nominated Scott Pruitt, a lawyer and former attorney general of Oklahoma, to head the EPA. A brief examination of Pruitt’s past record establishes his credentials for fulfilling his task. He has often expressed his doubts as to whether global warming is real. Pruitt has filed 14 different lawsuits against the EPA. One of these lawsuits challenged the EPA regulations limiting the emission of greenhouse gases from power plants using fossil fuels. He also sued the government over regulations established under the Clean Water Act. As a supporter of the fossil fuel industry, in his confirmation hearings he refused to turn over large numbers of emails between himself and corporate executives of energy companies. In the hearings he indicated he doubted that greenhouse gas emissions were the fundamental cause of global warming or that sea level was rising. He joins President Trump and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in this opinion.

Pruitt Begins the Process of Gutting the EPA

Scott Pruitt was appointed head of the EPA to lead the way in eliminating environmental regulations that have or would cut into corporate profits. He began his task almost immediately by reducing personnel and cutting spending. President Trump’s proposed budget to the next budget period cuts the EPA budget by 31% and employees by 20%. President Trump has accused the agency of creating junk science. Pruitt is in the process of taking science out of the EPA and replacing scientists with industry representatives.

The changes being enacted will have a huge effect on public health and the environment. Pruitt plans to eliminate nearly 50 programs now operated by the EPA. Some of the most effective programs run by the EPA will be cut back or eliminated. These include the Clean Power plan, the Clean Water Plan and the Office of Environmental Justice. which was enacted in 1992. A bill has also been introduced into the house that would eliminate the EPA altogether by the end of 2018.

New Legislation in 2017 Eliminates the Progress Made Over Many Decades

To accomplish his goal of eliminating regulations on corporations, Trump’s team is proposing the Honest and Open New EPA Science and Treatment Act of 2017 (HR 1430). It is being referred to as the Honest Act. Another new piece of legislation enacts the EPA Science Advisory Board. The act would prohibit scientists who receive funds from the EPA from serving on the board. However, the bill allows industry representatives to sit on the board.

Republican Controlled Legislatures Play Follow the Leader

Many state governments began the process of eliminating regulations protecting people from corporations before Trump was elected president. Beginning in 2011 the state of North Carolina began passing legislation to protect polluters. In response to pressure by some major companies they rescinded previously enacted laws protecting the people from atmospheric pollutants. They also took the step of eliminating nearly half of the air quality monitors in the state. These steps made it difficult to deny applications from corporations to exempt them from emission regulations. Other states have now followed the lead of the federal government.

This attack on the EPA is in line with the President’s policies. There will be no regulation of business. Free enterprise and the accumulation of wealth is what the Trump administration represents.

Every citizen who objects to these new policies should become an activist by whatever means they can. Act now before it is too late!

Trump, Pruitt and the EPA

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The Repeal of The Stream Protection Rule

smog

Coal causes major pollution!

“The Congressional Review Act clears the path for the new Republican administration to repeal any of Obama’s legislation signed after mid June of 2016.”

By Linn Smith

February 19, 2017—This week Trump signed a bill which repeals Obama’s Stream Protection Rule, a regulaton that protects waterways from coal mining waste by placing restrictions on coal companies that dump their waste in streams. Obama signed the Stream Protection Rule in December 2016, several weeks before the Trump administration took power.

The Congressional Review Act

The 1996 Congressional Review Act allows the House and Senate to kill any recently finalized federal regulation signed by an outgoing administration, in this case Obama. It allows congress and the new administraton, Trump, to repeal an act by a majority vote in congress, as long as the new president agrees to sign it, and Trump has agreed to the repeal!

The Congressional Review Act clears the path for the new Republican administration to repeal any of Obama’s legislation signed after mid June of 2016, and there is a lengthy list of repeals pending! The Stream Protection Rule was finalized by Obama in December 2016, so the Congressional Review Act is well within the limits for use in repealing this rule. Since its creation in 1996 the Congressional Review Act has only been put in to use one time—George W. Bush rolled back legislation in 2001 that would have further protected employees in the workplace.

The Stream Protection Rule

The Stream Protection Rule would have required new mining companies to set aside money to restore surrounding streams that would be effected by the mine and all mining companies would be required to monitor water quality. The Interior Department estimated the regulation would have cost the coal companies only 0.1 percent or less of their entire annual coal industry revenues!

According to sciencemag.org, “Demise of the Stream Rule won’t revitalize coal industry,” killing the rule will reset to its 1983 version when, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers usually issued a permit for blocking a stream with mine waste with the EPA also signing off. The repeal puts the pressure back on the Corps.”

Mountaintop mining

Mountaintop mining blasts away the mountains!

No Return of Coal Mining Jobs

The coal companies stated the Stream Protection Rule would have reduced mining jobs. But in Appalachia it’s predicted that jobs will never return because mountaintop mining is more economical and requires fewer workers. In the Planet Earth Weekly article, From Coal Mining to Renewables, planetearth5.com, I stated, “Coal jobs have been trending down for decades, partially because of mountaintop mining. Mountaintop mining has taken the place of underground mining and requires fewer workers, cutting jobs by the thousands.”

Loss of jobs in underground mining

Underground Mining

In 2015 the coal industry employed just under 70,000 people. There will always be some need for coal, as in the production of steel, but as an energy source it’s becoming the more expensive fuel. Natural gas and renewables are more economical, with renewables eventually being the future!

Trump signs Stream Protection Rule


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A Trump Presidency: Can Our Environment Survive?

Climate Change and Mass Extinction

Mass extinction could happen again-do we care?

“Utilities companies will buy from sources based on economics, not politics, and its difficult to see how utilities would suddenly start buying coal.”

By Linn Smith

November 18, 2016—The big question on my mind the past several weeks concerns the effects of a Trump presidency on our environment. Will the years of effort towards clean energy, both locally and globally, survive under the new administration? I must admit to feeling more than a little worried! Trump has no clean energy plan and appears to have very little knowledge or interest in the environment, denying scientific facts of our rapidly warming planet!

Clean Energy Speaks Loudest

According to an article in Computerworld, “Trump’s Coal Revival Plan Won’t Work”, analysts say clean energy will be difficult to reverse because, “clean energy has become so cheap it will continue to increase its domination of the energy industry.”—the pocketbook speaks the loudest!

Trump and Energy Plan

Will it remain?

But Trump still may undo the tax credit for solar, the Clean Energy Plan and our support for the Paris Agreement (see planetearth5.com, “The Historic Paris Climate Conference-Cop21”). Raj Prabhu, CEO for a clean energy firm, commented on the tax credit roll back that may happen under the Trump administration, “It could happen, but it’s unlikely, due to the bipartisan nature of how the bill was passed in Congress and the momentum solar has right now. Solar has gone mainstream with utilities companies, businesses, and home owners, not to mention that solar jobs exceed over 200,000.” Last year 31,000 new solar jobs were added to the industry, 20 times the national average for job creation. Plus, solar power systems prices are constantly declining–30% in 2016.

Prabhu also states “Contrary to election rhetoric, it’s not regulation or renewable subsidies that are killing coal; it’s actually natural gas, which is cheap and abundant. Utilities companies will buy from sources based on economics, not politics, and its difficult to see how utilities would suddenly start buying coal.” Added to this is the fact that, although environmentally devastating, many coal mining jobs have been lost due to table top mining, which requires less labor.

Earth Day

Clean Energy: Make It a Priority!

Countering the Trump Administration

William Yardley of the Los Angeles Times, states in his article, “Will Paris Climate Accord and Other Environmental Pacts Survive a Trump Presidency?” that Trump will be the only world leader to question whether climate change is real. ” Many activists have long argued that government cannot be counted on to lead on climate issues. Some say a blend of global market forces affecting fossil fuels, the declining cost of solar and wind energy, grass-roots activism, legal action in U.S. courts and international pressure could help counter whatever efforts a Trump administration might make to undo existing policies.”

Lack of Leadership Won’t Stop Transition To Clean Energy

And K.C. Golden chairman of 350.org, “This is obviously a setback, in part because we started so damn late and there’s already quite a bit of damage, but this transition (renewable energy) is underway and it’s driven by a whole lot of things–human will, local policy, state policy, international policy, and technology development. There will be more of a price to pay and more climate damage will accumulate and be inflicted on people, because we’ll go slower than we would go if we had concerted American leadership, but the lack of American leadership won’t stop the transition.”

Maybe I have searched for the more positive aspects concerning predictions about our future under a new administration with no clean energy plan, but that’s ok. Me, and maybe a few of you, needed it! We, as individuals, must embrace the responsibility to create a cleaner environment, while supporting local, state and international efforts towards saving our planet.

Clean Energy and the Trump Administration