The “canary in a coal mine” is a metaphor originating from the time when caged birds were carried into the mines as an early warning system; the canary would die before methane and carbon gases reached levels hazardous to humans.
Deregulating the nation’s environment is proving more problematic for Trump and company than they anticipated. There is, I suppose, some consolation in that. Although at the same time, federal collaboration with states and the private sector to protect the environment and to move the nation toward a low-carbon future is pretty much at a standstill.
Defense has become the new offense, since The Donald’s settling into the Oval Office. Law suits asking the courts to prevent federal agencies from delaying implementation of various Obama-era regulations are commonplace. For those fond of counting, the enviros appear to have the edge on the administration when it comes to court victories.
As The Donald is discovering, winning is not always easy to define. It is often elusive long after an inning has ended. Yogi knew, and the environmental community would do well to remember: it ain’t over until it’s over.
Environmental Regulation In Republican Administrations-- The Trickster, The Gipper and The Trumpster (Part 2)
It is time to build on what we have learned, and to begin a more ambitious national effort. I recommend that the Clean Air Act be revised to expand the scope of strict pollution abatement, to simplify the task of industry in pollution abatement through more nearly uniform standards, and to provide special controls against particularly dangerous pollutants.
----Richard Nixon, 1970
Part 1 reviewed the environmental records of Nixon, Ford and Reagan. President Carter’s tenure in office was briefly discussed for purposes of context.
Today’s part looks at Bush 41 and 42. It, as well, addresses the action’s Trump has taken in his first six months in office.
The Trumpster’s place at the bottom of the list of Green Presidents is pretty much assured should he do nothing more than he already has. It is hard to imagine he will see a light anything like Saul saw on his fateful way to Damascus. Although, the world will undoubtedly continue to hope.
History shows that opposition to protecting the environment is not an inherently Republican trait. Nixon, for example, must be counted among those chief executives of the nation, who saw the need to regulate harmful emissions and were willing to act on it. It also tells us the importance of bi-partisanship.
Do these same lessons come through in today’s discussion? Read on to find out.
Environmental Regulation In Republican Administrations- The Trickster, The Gipper and The Trumpster (Part 1)
The environmental problems we face are deep rooted and widespread. They can be solved only by a full national effort embracing not only sound,coordinated planning, but also an effective follow-through that reaches into every community in the land. Improving our surroundings is necessarily the business of us all.
--- Richard Nixon, 1970
I admit the title of this piece sounds a bit like a Comic-con promo for a new graphic novel. The story does contain all the requisite elements-- heroes, villains, intrigue, punches and counter-punches. True to the genre it has no foreseeable ending; only the promise of more stories to follow.
Trump’s environmental assault raises questions—as well as eyebrows—about the legacy of Republican presidents in the modern era[i]. For example, is The Donald’s denial of climate change theory an historically Republican phenomenon or is it more personal to whoever is sitting in the presidential chair?
Similarly, is refusal to take the steps necessary to protect people and nature from harmful emissions and transist the nation to a low-carbon economy a function of traditional Republican dislike of regulation or something more specific?
I thought to do a bit of research on the subject. The following is a tale of the tapes.
For a man who once said environmentalists wanted to live like a bunch of damned animals, Nixon did a lot to protect their habitats and to keep them safe even today.
The Trickster’s environmental legacy is impressive. It includes:
When the branches of government no longer function as constitutionally intended, the bough of democracy threatens to break.
Partisan Politics: My Party Right or Wrong
The 2016 presidential election and the period following will undoubtedly be remembered as a watershed in American politics. It is too early to tell just how the election and its aftermath will be recalled by historians; its consequences are still unfurling and likely to continue doing so through the next presidential election cycle in 2020.
It is never too early, however, for the clean energy and climate defending communities to begin thinking seriously in terms of what comes next. Will the molds broken in 2016 be recast as they were, or will the anger, division and disgruntlement continue in 2020 and beyond?
Will the next nominees for president and Congress be consummate outsiders or will establishment politicians be re-established? Can either of the two major political parties be counted on to halt the damage done by Trump and company to the environment—to say nothing of reinstating needed protections and making up for the time already lost in transitioning to a low-carbon future?
Six months into his presidency, it is clear the chaos of the campaign has accompanied The Donald into the Oval Office. It is likely chaos will rule longer than Trump himself.
The most potent weapon in the Trump administration’s arsenal for defeating efforts to combat climate change and slowing the adoption of solar, wind and other low-carbon energy sources is one rarely spoken of: federal preemption of state-based incentives and policies like Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
Joel B. Stronberg
Joel Stronberg, Esq., of The JBS Group is a veteran clean energy policy analyst with over 30 years’ experience, based in Washington, DC.