“In one word, horrifying”: Trump’s drastic plan against the environment.
The initial significant environmental law in the United States has been abolished, followed by a suppression of government researchers, a surge in oil and gas extraction, and the complete dismissal of the Paris climate agreement.
According to interviews with various allies and advisers of Donald Trump, plans are being developed for a potential second term that would have an even more extreme impact on the environment compared to his first term.
In contrast to the disorganized first term at the White House, they have planned a more organized second term as president, which includes increasing fossil fuel production, disregarding mainstream climate scientists, and reversing regulations aimed at reducing emissions that contribute to global warming.
Myron Ebell, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency transition team during Trump’s first term, stated that Trump plans to reverse all of Biden’s actions and will do so at a faster and more extensive pace than before. Ebell also believes that Trump will swiftly implement his own agenda.
If Trump’s Republican supporters are successful in the November election and he defeats Joe Biden, their main goal will be to overturn the Inflation Reduction Act. This bill, worth $370 billion and focused on promoting clean energy initiatives and electric cars, was signed by Biden in 2022 with no support from Republicans. Ebell stated that this was a significant loss for their party.
Carla Sands, a prominent environmental consultant for the America First Policy Institute which supports President Trump, has spoken out against Biden’s “doomsday environmental visions”. She stated, “It is vital for our country to have an equal regulatory platform for all energy sources to compete. To achieve this, we must overturn the energy and environment policies outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act.”
The Republican-dominated House of Representatives has passed legislation that aims to significantly weaken the IRA. However, completely abolishing the IRA, which has greatly benefited Republican districts by increasing funding and job opportunities in solar, wind, and battery manufacturing, may prove to be a challenge for Trump, especially if his party gains full control of Congress.
Nonetheless, as president, Trump has the ability to impede the advancement of clean energy by revising the regulations for the IRA’s tax credits, which are quite substantial.
According to his supporters, he plans to eliminate government assessments of the harm caused by carbon emissions, force a weaker EPA to eliminate pollution regulations for vehicles, and symbolically reject the Paris climate agreement by withdrawing from it and submitting it to the Senate for ratification as a treaty, even though it is likely to be rejected.
According to Mandy Gunasekara, former chief of staff at the EPA under Trump, the Paris climate accord does not effectively address environmental issues in the United States or worldwide. She believes that the agreement does not hold countries like China and India accountable for reducing their emissions.
During recent campaign events, Trump, who is expected to be the Republican nominee, has referred to renewable energy as “a dishonest industry” and promised to prioritize drilling. He has also stated that on his first day as president, he would eliminate “corrupt Joe Biden’s unreasonable requirement for electric vehicles” and authorize the construction of multiple gas export facilities that have been put on hold under Biden’s administration.
Restrictions on drilling in certain areas, such as the Arctic, may be lifted under Trump’s administration. Despite the fact that the US achieved record levels of oil and gas production last year, Trump has vowed to put an end to what he calls the incumbent president’s “war on American energy.”
Tom Pyle, who served as head of the US Department of Energy’s transition team under Trump and is now president of the American Energy Alliance, believes that the Republicans will create a forceful reconciliation bill to retrieve the subsidies in the IRA.
Having previous experience in office will benefit the president, allowing him to quickly advance his agenda. Without the pressure of seeking re-election, there will be a limited time frame for him to act, potentially leading to more assertive actions.
It doesn’t make sense.
Opponents of Trump, who are already concerned about the possibility of him returning to the presidency, caution that his plans will hinder the investment in clean energy, put Americans’ health at risk from pollution, severely harm efforts to combat the climate crisis, and isolate America from its allies.
Andrew Rosenberg, a former official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and current fellow at the University of New Hampshire, described a potential second term for Trump as “horrific.”
This action would be extremely foolish and would undo years of effort to safeguard the well-being of the public. There is no rational reasoning behind it other than causing destruction. Those who endorse this idea may not understand that their own lives are also at risk.
According to Rosenberg, a potential second term for Trump would be even more ideologically radical than his first term, with fewer limitations. He stated, “During his first term, there were individuals who were part of a reasonable mainstream that helped temper his most extreme tendencies – but they will not be present in a second term.”
Experts warn that if Trump successfully repeals the IRA and weakens or eliminates EPA pollution regulations, it could have devastating impacts on our planet’s efforts to address a growing climate emergency.
The United States, ranked as the second largest emitter of carbon in the world, would experience a decrease in emissions during Trump’s presidency due to existing policies and a shift towards using gas instead of coal as an energy source. However, this reduction would only occur at half the rate compared to a potential second term under Biden, as reported by Energy Innovation and shared with the Guardian.
This would be a devastating setback for the worldwide attempt to control the harmful effects of global warming. Experts caution that in order to prevent surpassing the agreed-upon temperature limits and subjecting billions of individuals to increasingly extreme heatwaves, floods, and droughts, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by almost half within the next ten years and completely eliminated by 2050.
Anand Gopal, executive director at Energy Innovation, stated that it is possible for Donald Trump to replace the IRA, but it cannot be completely dismissed.
If this were to occur, it could have a catastrophic impact on the world. It may prompt others to regress or decrease their commitments to combat climate change, which would veer the world off course from where it should be. This could ultimately determine whether we are able to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The success of the incoming Trump administration will heavily depend on their skills in navigating complex regulatory processes and dealing with the court system. During his first term, President Trump faced numerous defeats in court due to his rushed attempts to roll back environmental regulations, and several scandal-ridden cabinet members in charge of these efforts resigned.
According to Jeff Navin, a former chief of staff at the US Department of Energy, it is not possible to simply make changes without putting in the necessary effort. He questions whether President Trump is willing to invest the time and resources needed to revise regulations or if he will focus on other issues instead. Navin believes the latter is more likely.
However, certain conservatives are optimistic that Trump will achieve greater success in his second term. They cite the conservative leanings of the Supreme Court and better preparedness for the election, including the release of the Project 2025 plan by the conservative Heritage Foundation. This plan outlines significant reductions to the EPA and Department of the Interior, as well as a stronger politicization of the civil service to advance Trump’s objectives.
Paul Dans, the director of Project 2025, stated to E&E News in the previous year that they are currently devising a strategy and mobilizing their troops. He also mentioned that it is unprecedented for the entire conservative movement to unite and strategically plan to take control and dismantle the administrative state on day one.
According to Jeff Holmstead, former head of the EPA’s air office under George W. Bush, a potential second term for Trump’s administration would be better prepared.
“He stated that they are aware of the necessary steps to repeal regulations in a legally sound manner. In the event of a new Trump administration, there would be a more precise and targeted approach towards deregulation, with greater influence from the industry.”
According to Gunasekara, there has been an unnecessary conflict between the oil industry and regulators under Biden’s leadership.
She advised that collaboration with industry leaders is necessary. Agencies should not hinder or promote specific technologies.
In the beginning, members of the Trump administration are likely to collaborate with Congress to eliminate specific regulations using a process called the Congressional Review Act. This law, created during the Clinton administration, allows Congress and the president to join forces and revoke significant federal regulations within 60 days of their finalization by passing a joint resolution of disapproval that is signed by the president.
“In the past, anything that was completed after mid- to late May typically fell within that timeframe,” explained Holmstead. “Therefore, the Biden administration must act quickly.”
A potential second term for Trump could also impact the work of federal climate scientists. In his previous term, they were disregarded but still able to publish their research. However, a new Trump administration may be more involved in modifying climate reports or potentially holding a previously proposed public discussion on the validity of climate science.
Ebell stated that he believes the idea will be brought back to life and he anticipates it will provide a broader perspective on climate science that is not influenced by a small group of people. He also mentioned that this process will begin rapidly.
Biden has faced difficulties in gaining support from environmentally aware, younger voters as Trump unveils his own initiatives. These voters are upset with Biden’s decision to continue leasing public lands and waters to the fossil fuel industry, including the contentious Willow oil project in Alaska.
Biden has been in charge of a significant increase in the export of liquified natural gas. However, he has recently tried to limit this growth, and his administration has struggled to promote the IRA to the American people. Unfortunately, many voters are not aware of the climate legislation and its impact on reducing emissions.
However, according to Rosenberg, the president’s stance on climate change cannot be compared to Trump’s. He stated, “The difference between Biden and Trump is extremely noticeable. Do I believe Biden is the perfect candidate? No, but in comparison to Trump? That is truly concerning.”
Those concerned with public health, the environment, science, and international relations should be fearful of another term with Trump in office.