These short posts are part of a series to take stock of changes that may be coming during a Trump Administration.
- Both President Trump and his head of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt have railed against the EPA and the environmental regulations they believe harm business. Scott Pruitt has sued the EPA and a rollback is expected under his watch. Trump has also signed an executive order that two regulations must be eliminated for each new regulation proposed.
- The EPA came into existance during the Nixon Administration following a highly newsworthy event – the Cuyahoga River in Northeast Ohio was so polluted that it caught fire in 1969. Environmental regulations have been instrumental in cleaning up the nation’s waters, air and soil, but at the same time, many manufacturers moved out of the country. One of the factors that a company will consider before making such a move is the cost of environmental regulations in the U.S. versus a different country. Clean manufacturing is more expensive than dumping the byproducts and waste on the ground next to the factory.
- The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan made it costly to burn coal for electricity generation and many utilities have invested in renewable energy or converted power plants to natural gas. President Trump has promised to revive the coal mining industry by turning back that initiative, but there is a real health and financial benefit to reducing air pollution by moving away from coal. Struggling coal miners are easy to highlight while charts on asthma occurrences are not, but dirtier air does shorten and reduce the quality of life.
- It’s not likely that a Trump/Pruitt EPA will ever allow a river to become so polluted again that it will catch fire, but have no doubt that we are all experiencing the effects of manmade climate change. There is a lot more energy in the atmosphere than was the case a decade or two ago because of the current level of warming. That leads to more powerful storms and wider swings in temperatures. When do you remember tornados in December and January, or large snowstorms the day after shorts weather in the Northeast? The flooding in Louisiana last year and in North Carolina before that are the result of powerful storms kept in place by other powerful weather systems. It may have been an isolated incident a couple decades ago, but now it’s much more frequent.
President Trump says he wants to invest heavily in infrastructure and he better hurry. The thing that damages roads and bridges the most are freeze-thaw cycles, and we have been experiencing many more of those as the planet warms.