The Divide: New order repeals laws dealing with climate change

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Pablo Ortiz

Tyler Coleman, senior political science major. 

Elizabeth Booth

On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order initiating the expulsion of the Clean Power Act, a set of environmental regulations set forth by the Obama era.  The order aligns with promises made by the Trump campaign for presidency to reboot coal industry work.  The Trump administration intends for regulation rollbacks to reignite the coal industry and jobs for coal miners while utilizing our natural resources.  

The Clean Power Act was created as the United States response to the international Paris Agreement on climate change.  The job-killing impact the act has had on the coal industry, due to regulations regarding the CO emissions of coal-fired power plants, has long been criticized by conservatives.

Mariah Irvin, sophomore English major, and Tyler Coleman, senior political science major, agree that environmental policy does not appear to be a priority for this administration.  However, says Coleman, “… environmentalism has become nothing more than a calling card for centralizing further power in the hands of the Federal Government … The proper way to care for the environment is through private, voluntary action … a market economy provides strong incentives to competitive firms and individuals to conserve and protect natural resources through private ownership.”

Coleman uses the example of how one might treat a home they own versus a rental property.  The same applies to private ownership of natural resources versus centralized government regulations.

Irvin emphasizes that the impacts made on the environment will affect all of us, Liberal or Conservative.  “Our priority shouldn’t be trying to save an already-dying industry that contributes to greenhouse pollution … it should be combatting climate change by taking advantage of the new jobs available in the wind and solar industries.”

Coleman agrees that new jobs in cheaper, more efficient and more environmentally friendly energy sources such as shale or natural gas would be better utilized rather than an already dying coal industry.  He cites the emergence of “creative destruction” or the need for old industries to shrink to allow the immergence of new industry growth.

According to the Department of Energy, less than 75,000 coal mining jobs remain in the United States while 650,000 jobs in renewable energy.

Says Irvin, “I don’t believe that bringing back some of our coal jobs will have a huge economic impact, but it will set back some of our efforts in our participation with other countries in the Paris climate agreement.”

She believes that if we take back our commitments made in Paris, other countries will become bolder in denying their commitments as well which could potentially lead to huge regression internationally in global warming.

Coleman views the Paris Agreement as a “misguided attempt at coordinating international cooperation.”

 He sees no guarantees that other countries in participation will back up their ends of the agreement.  “There is a much better way to garner international cooperation and foster peaceful relations – complete free trade.”

Though these rollbacks come in the form of an executive order, actions to replace the previous regulations will be decided by the EPA head, Scott Pruitt, and remain yet to be seen.  The White House has yet to release an estimate on the number of jobs that will potentially be created by the elimination of the Clean Power Act.