As the public debate about the causes and consequences of climate change remains politically charged and as legislative responses elude policymakers, the nation’s courtrooms have become the issue’s principal battleground. Over the past several years I have often written about the politicization of climate policy and the judiciary’s rise as the default driver of the nation’s environmental policy.
Limited by matters of procedure and precedence, courts of law are imperfect venues in which to debate and decide government’s responsibility to protect its citizens and future generations from the ravages of global warming. In this time of hyper-partisanship and government gridlock, the judiciary is the only fully functioning federal branch of government in terms of making reasoned and stable decisions. How long that will last, the given character of Trump’s nominees to the federal bench remains a mystery.
Although hardly responsible for the political divisions that have led to years of legislative and executive gridlock, Donald Trump has deepened the divide and is ushering in an era in which the judiciary has become the target of partisan attacks. The President’s Twitter attacks of judges based on their ethnicity and his visceral dislike of their decisions are encouraging others to assault the legal system and the rule of law.
Today I am writing about an organization—the Government Accountability and Oversight (GAO) group—determined to diminish the public’s confidence in the overwhelming consensus of the science community about the causes and consequences of climate change and the rule of law. According to the organization’s founders:
…today’s environmental movement is increasingly dominated by a determined and well-funded fringe who are pushing their own center to dubious legal propositions. Among these is a campaign that can only be described as a shakedown operation directed against energy companies. (emphasis added)
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.
Global warming is certainly not our lead talking point.
---- Abigail Ross Hopper/CEO the Solar Energy
The tension running through all levels of American society these days is palpable. An age of identity politics—groups of every ilk, are pulling back behind their defining walls. Traditional alliances are being broken, and new ones are slow to form. Dealmaking has taken on the airs of a zero-sum game in which there can only be one winner.
It all has me wondering if we shouldn’t consider changing the nation’s name. The word United somehow seems terribly out of place.
This may be another instance when Trump understands the mood of the public—or at least a sizable segment of it—better than other politicians and the pundits. I’ve always assumed Trump chose to use the mantra of make AMERICA great again--rather than Make the United States of America Great Again--because it didn’t fit neatly on a baseball cap. Now, I’m not so sure. He could have used USA and given the rest of the phrase a bit more breathing room.
Donald John appears content to serve only 40 percent of the population; and, the 40 percent seems content to let him. Trump has shown little inclination to unite the country. In anticipation of the November mid-term elections, he directs his message only to his core supporters, putting the rest of the nation on notice that he and his followers are coming for them.
In consort with the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, Trump and company are assaulting the climate and clean energy sectors. Almost all environmental regulations that came into force during the Obama administration have either been rescinded, suspended or are awaiting a final court decision. The regulations include the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Waters of the US (WOTUS), average corporate fuel efficiencies (CAFE), greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas exploration and extraction on federal lands, and more.
Joel B. Stronberg
Joel Stronberg, MS, JD., of The JBS Group is a veteran clean energy policy analyst with over 30 years’ experience, based in Washington, DC.