If Trump wins re-election, you can kiss environmental protection goodbye
Donald Trump has been using cover of COVID-19 and his wannabe strongman response to Black Lives Matter protests to continue his pro-polluter agenda, recently with an Executive Order tossing basic environmental protections out the window under guise of economic recovery.
By Climate Denier Roundup
Fortunately, this appears to be yet another pointless distraction., As Niina Farah and Jennifer Hijazi make clear in E&E, legal experts are not impressed by the move. According to former EPA attorney Joel Mintz, “there is a real question as to whether or not the president can contradict the directives of Congress and essentially suspend environmental laws that are in effect.” The “real question” is really whether or not he’ll get away with it, because the idea that the president can “contradict the directives of Congress” is pretty obviously unconstitutional.
According to NYU Law’s Elizabeth Klein, while emergency authority is certainly a valid power, “this is not the kind of emergency” those powers were meant for, and that waiving NEPA and other reviews “in the name of economic recovery is absurd and unnecessary.”
On top of that, Brett Hartle of the Center for Biological Diversity points to some rhetorical sleight of hand in the rule, which accurately cites that the emergency is hurting the economy, but that emergency is the pandemic, not the economic downturn. “What he’s telling the agencies to do,” Hartle explained to E&E, “is approve projects to help the economy, not approve projects to address COVID. That’s a big vulnerability.”
But of course, that’s only if it survives legal review. And on that front, UC Berkeley law professor Dan Farber is skeptical, writing that it’s on “legally shaky” grounds and “a tweet or phone call would have had the same effect” as the EO. But “who knows what happens in November,” after which a new president could easily undo Trump’s various executive orders.
On the other hand, if Trump wins a second term, we’re in store for a fully unleashed fossil fuel bonanza, if the “energy advisers who work closely with the White House” who talked to Scott Waldman at E&E are to be believed.
While reelection concerns stymied deniers’ efforts to to get the federal government’s insignia on denial with a Red Team program, a second term would see an all-out assault on science in defense of the fossil fuel industry.
Top of the chopping block, according to fossil fuel funded hacks, is to lift restrictions on shipping gas internationally with a five-year “pause” to the Jones Act to give the industry time to construct an American-made fleet of gas transporting ships.
Another idea is a “Pittsburgh air accord” to replace the Paris agreement, which would set air quality standards that would limit coal use and thereby boost gas. More regulatory rollbacks and “streamlining” are likely in the works, as well as a directive to add up all government spending on climate across the various federal agencies, and a look at temperature datasets (because maybe scientists are using thermometers wrong?).
And finally, of course, is the white whale, the EPA’s Endangerment Finding. Various denial groups have petitioned the government to reconsider it, and a second Trump term would be their best, and hopefully last, shot.
Talk about absurd and unnecessary…
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(Crossposted with DailyKos.)