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The Trump Administration’s Environmental Policy

President Trump has already taken massive steps to erase all the progress made on environmental issues during the Obama administration. In March, he rescinded a number of clean air initiatives set by his predecessor. Since then, the administration has not left off on the issue, which was a signature one during last year’s campaign. During the campaign, Trump presented himself as a champion of the coal industry, and he promised to bring back coal jobs by removing the regulations he and some in the industry feel are responsible for the decline in the use of coal nationwide.

In October, the EPA signaled that their intent was to continue in this direction by reviewing and removing Obama era expansions on the Clean Air Act.

These two points, combined with other acts in the administration and other comments made by those in the administration, suggest the environment is in for a very difficult four years. With recent extreme weather events suggesting global warming may be advancing faster than previously expected, this could be a truly tragic development.

There is a reason to hope, however. Though the administration in the White House is determined to unravel as many regulations as possible, no matter the consequences, it is not clear that the country will follow suit.

The decline in coal, for instance, has been due more to the increased use of natural gas (which burns cleaner than coal) than to any government policy. As renewable energy becomes increasingly cheaper, this trend is only going to continue, no matter the change in governing philosophy.

At the same time, many companies have already invested in the technology required to comply with the Obama era rules, and it would only be a needless expense to undo what is already done, particularly when it is not clear how long the policy may last as it is.

Other companies have also started up, and indeed, inventions and innovations in the green energy and clean airfields are surging. Consider the robovent, which prides itself on how well it can comply with the Obama regulations. Its success testifies to the strength of the trend toward cleaner energy and greater energy efficiency. It seems unlikely any of this will stop now. At most, it may slow slightly.

That does not mean no damage can be done. As has been seen in the response to Puerto Rico, the Trump administration has a great deal of power it can choose to deploy or not in order to deal with immediate environmental challenges. The putative attitude on display towards Puerto Rico suggests the administration will hold grudges and use or refuse to use its power depending on personal feelings about particular regions, communities, or issues.

Another issue on the Trump agenda, the travel ban, also shows that the administration can be very dedicated to pushing a policy no matter how much blowback it experiences.

It must be assumed until proven otherwise that all that can be done that the Trump administration is dedicated to dismantling as many environmental regulations as possible.

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