The newly elected Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives should move quickly to overturn the environmental retreat orchestrated by President Trump and congressional Republicans.
House Democrats need not worry about any no-holds-barred environmental crusade being stymied by a recalcitrant Republican-controlled Senate or a Trump presidential veto. If Republicans want to set up roadblocks to Democrats restoration of public health safeguards as well as regulations to combat climate change, so be it. There is the Democratic platform for the 2020 national elections, delivered on a generous ecological platter.
This platform would be especially suited for attracting younger voters, who have the most to lose if scientific projections are to be believed. The word is that there is little more than a decade to get things right. Previously, the younger set has tended to be under represented on Election Day.
Voting patterns will undoubtedly be altered if Democrats convincingly sell the message that humanity has approximately a decade to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half. As ammunition, Democrats can cite this latest projection contained in three recent reports prepared by hundreds of prominent climatologists around the globe. All three warn of calamitous climate-related conditions by 2030 unless the international community records the aforementioned dramatic decrease in carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
Some Republican lawmakers will respond that it is pointless to spend big bucks cutting emissions when the effort will only make a dent in the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution problem. But applying that logic is a prescription for all nations to default and concede the inevitability of an overheated planet. Stabilization of rising global temperatures is an incremental, collective process that has to start somewhere.
Some climate change skeptics are then bound to counter by asking why we should go all-out when there are other countries not fulfilling their commitments. As the world’s top overall greenhouse gas emitter and current runner up to China, we should be setting an example for humanity’s salvation, not decline. What better way to reclaim our original international environmental preeminence!
House Democrats should introduce legislation that blocks Trump’s pending rollbacks of environmental regulations and reverses ones already in place. In the first category are Trump’s intention to weaken mandated emission reductions for coal fired power plants, clean water and wetlands protections, vehicular fuel economy standards, methane gas curbs, and the Endangered Species Act. A bill should also be filed to halt Trump’s plan to open up the pristine wilderness of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
Regulations already on the books that should be rescinded include Trump’s lifting of a ban on the dumping of mine waste into mountain streams and his designation of public lands’ eligibility for coal mining.
A carbon tax proposal should be introduced (provided the revenues are returned to the public as rebates to make the emission-reduction levy more politically palatable). Funding should be reinstated for renewable energy research, development, and usage. The same outcome holds for energy efficiency programs. National Monuments should be protected from further shrinkage at Trump’s hands.
Most if not all congressional Republicans will resist dismantling of President Trump’s environmental deregulatory crusade, and with control of the Senate, they present an insurmountable legislative roadblock provided they remain united.
House Democrats, should not be intimidated. The polls show that a majority of Americans are on their side. Approximately two-thirds of respondents in recent surveys believe climate change is a real threat and requires immediate attention. A majority also are opposed to relaxation of environmental rules.
House Democrats are in a position to offer the public an environmental choice that will likely culminate in affirmation at the ballot box.