Donald Trump told the Detroit Economic Conference this week that he will propose “a complete rethinking of our energy policy.” What does that mean? According to Trump’s stated plans, it apparently means the Koch Brothers win. Fossil fuel industries will get to extract every last molecule of oil, natural gas, and coal from the earth and burn them to produce profits for themselves. The fact that doing so will likely accelerate the pace of climate change and global warming and destroy human society is irrelevant to these charlatans who place profits above all else — including people’s lives.
It is fair to say that all government policies should be critically re-examined on a regular basis to insure they are still relevant, cost effective, and effective. But Trump’s plan is nothing less than the wholesale adoption of policy positions espoused by the leaders of the Republican Party for the past several decades. It echoes the policies put forth by Mitt Romney and George W. Bush.
His speech cited studies from the Koch Brothers–funded Institute for Energy Research, the ExxonMobil-funded Heritage Foundation, and the American Petroleum Institute. All purport to prove that clean energy policies put in place by the Obama administration will ruin the American economy. Trump’s proposals call for more fossil fuels and less environmental regulation.
In his speech, Trump blasted what he called “the Obama–Clinton war on coal.” He promised, “I am going to cut regulations massively. Massively.” Say hello to fracking in national parks and forests. Say hello to more coal-fired generating plants belching pollutants into the skies without expensive pollution control technology, and thus costing the US a net $500 billion a year in extra health and livability costs. Say hello to rivers, streams, and aquifers too polluted to support human habitation so that a few people can make billions in profits.
Before the speech, the Trump campaign sent the press a statement of its so-called energy policy plan.
“Donald Trump’s energy proposals read like a gift registry for the fossil fuel and financial industries,” Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard said in a statement. “If a U.S. president would attempt to enact any of these proposals it would not only undo the the progress millions of people around the world have achieved on climate change, it would set this country on a path to economic ruin and environmental devastation.”
Trump’s campaign pronouncements often refer to creating jobs, a topic that resonates with many who have seen their livelihoods devastated by the economic turmoil that roiled the global economy in 2008. Most people have seen their earning power decline since then while a few lucky and very wealthy people have made hundreds of billions in profits. It’s easy to see how people can be seduced by the promise of more jobs and higher wages.
But the Trump vision is nothing more than empty slogans without any basis in reality. The real economic opportunities are in building an infrastructure of sustainable, non-polluting energy resources and a complete transition away from the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Humankind can only continue to poison the environment we rely on for so long. “Drill, baby, drill” is a foolish, short-sighted policy that imperils us all.