For people like me who deeply care about wildlife, our environment and the specter of uncontrollable climate change, there’s nothing but fear in the face of a Republican majority in the House, Senate and Presidency … and soon, the Supreme Court.
The US elected GW Bush on steroids. During those painful 8 years, all I remember is fight after fight after fight to get some crumbs that helped the environment. He even repealed a 1983 rule that required a measly 100-foot buffer between coal operators and rivers, allowing them to dump mountaintop mining debris right into Appalachia waterways.
I shake my head in horror every time I realize this is not a nightmare I can wake up from.
I didn’t agree with all of President Obama’s policies, such as the great expansion of fracking or signing the fake GMO labeling bill, but overall, I felt buoyed by his presidency.
Obama made the US a climate leader, bringing China and India into the fold, and was instrumental in obtaining an international climate agreement that had been elusive for decades. In October, thanks to his leadership, the world signed a binding agreement to phase out climate forcing HFCs. He made the US a renewable energy leader, starting with breathtaking funding in the Recovery Act.
Over the years, he issued a raft of thoughtful executive orders. Right before the election, The Transportation Department announced it would create 48 electric vehicle charging corridors in 35 states to lift sales of electric cars. Drivers will be able to find charging stations along interstate highways every 50 miles!
Examples of his wide ranging executive orders:
- all national security policies must fully incorporate climate change considerations.
- solar is more accessible to low- and middle-income households and veterans through the Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative, with a goal of 1 gigawatt of solar by 2020.
- launched the National Community Solar Partnership
- training 75,000 low-income people and vets for solar careers
- mobilized $4 billion from investors to back breakthrough renewable energy technologies
- federal government required to cut emissions 41.8% by 2025 (from 2008 levels) and use 30% renewable energy by then for ALL energy, not just electricity.
- federal agencies must incorporate sea level rise projections into planning and construction along US coasts
- protected more land and water than any US president – about 2 million acres – while redefining ocean policy, addressing illegal fishing and seafood fraud, and developing a strategy to address pollinator collapse.
Now we face the most right-wing, extreme appointments to every federal government agency we have ever seen – people who are salivating to drill everywhere (and get new tax breaks for it), get rid of renewable energy, turn our public lands over to private interests, and who couldn’t care less about ecosystems or wildlife.
“We’re only thinking about one thing right now: stopping Donald Trump from destroying the planet … the Environmental Protection Agency will be gutted, the Endangered Species Act will be repealed, old-growth forests will be clearcut, hard-fought global climate change agreements will be undermined, and polluters will be given free rein over our water and air,” moans Kierán Suckling, Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve been here before. During the Bush administration we went to court time after time, forcing it to uphold our strongest environmental laws.”
But what happens when Trump and Congress stacks the courts and repeals the laws? Not only has the Republican Senate refused to allow Obama to choose a Supreme Court judge, dozens of federal judgeship appointments are still waiting after 8 years. Bills have been introduced during Obama’s term that would repeal the Endangered Species Act, for example, blocked only by Obama’s veto.
Other things on Trump’s “To Do” List are equally frightening:
- pass libel laws targeting journalists who dare to be critical of him and his policies
- nationwide “stop-and-frisk” laws
- mass deportation and profiling of certain ethnic groups
- get rid of unions
- nominate the most conservative Supreme Court justice(s)
- national right-to-carry gun laws
- privatizing Social Security and Medicare, long on Mike Pence and Paul Ryan’s list.
By now, you have heard of people on Trump’s short list for cabinet.
He’s already picked a white nationalist as Chief Strategist – a man who wants to work with right-wing groups around the world. “There is talk of Breitbart “news” bureaus opening in Paris, Berlin, and Cairo, spots where the populist right is on the rise, and a bigger newsroom is coming in Washington,” says the NY Times. Oh, and climate change is a hoax and renewable energy is a scam.
The Koch Brothers love Mike Pence and Reince Priebus, Trump’s Chief of Staff. Marc Short, a top Koch advisor, is also helping the transition team, reports Politico.
Then there are war hawks John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani as the two choices for Secretary of State.
For the EPA and Department of Energy, Trump is looking to fossil industry lobbyists that held high positions in the GW Bush administration (No lobbyists in my administration, says Trump!). Learn about Myron Ebel, who’s leading the EPA transition. For Interior, it could be Lucas Oil founder, who has used his fortune to weaken environmental and wildlife protections.
And the Agriculture Department? Trump promises to overturn gains there too and Monsanto is waiting.
For the Social Security Administration, antagonists from GW Bush and Reagan administrations are overseeing the transition.
For Treasury, financial barons Trump railed against during the campaign are on the short list. “You would have to go back to the 1920s to see so much Wall Street influence coming to Washington,” Charles Geisst, a Wall Street historian, told Politico. Look for Dodd-Frank to be repealed, coupled with massive tax cuts for the wealthy.
No need to wonder why bank, coal and oil stocks are soaring, while renewable energy stocks plunged since Trump’s election.
Read our article, Trump Isn’t the Only Problem, It’s His Choices for Cabinet, Supreme Court.