If the tens of thousands of fires burning in the Amazon and Trump’s disdain for climate science and environmental regulation were not bad enough in their own right, imagine how bad they could be together?
It’s being reported that Brazil’s environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, will be meeting with representatives of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) at EPA headquarters on Sept-ember 19th. CEI is a leading denialist organization whose director for energy and environment, Myron Ebell, headed-up Trump’s EPA transition team.
CEI and company are increasingly alone in their bald denial of climate science and the impacts of global warming. Even organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce are at least willing to acknowledge that the global climate is changing and that human activities contribute to those changes.
Brazil’s recently elected populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a fan-boy of President Trump. As is his usual practice, Trump embraces anyone who strokes his ego:
I have gotten to know President @jairbolsonaro well in our dealings with Brazil. He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil – Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!
According to reports, Bolsonaro told his supporters to call him Captain Chainsaw. He also wears with pride the tag Trump of the Tropics.
This is the second article in the Civil Notion series--Erasing Trump’s Environmental Legacy—about the barriers a Democratic victor in the 2020 presidential election—President X— will face in an effort to put a national climate defense plan on the books.
As I had written in the first article of the series, undoing the damage done by Trump to the environment and the regulatory framework that protects it will prove more difficult—certainly more time consuming—than climate defenders imply in their various policy proposals.
The way forward for any climate defense plan—moderate or progressive—will be cluttered with the flotsam of the Trump administration, e.g., rolled back regulations, extant lawsuits, and the loss of the many experienced government professionals needed to implement a pro-environment agenda.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand President X can wave that will immediately restore critical protections and reverse the damage done to the environment by Trump’s policy actions. For example, the administration’s elimination of efficiency standards covering nearly half the lightbulbs currently on the market will increase annual energy usage by an estimated 80 billion kilowatt-hours—an amount roughly equal to the electricity needed to power all the households in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Erasing Trump’s environmental legacy is going to take time. A return to the Obama standard would undoubtedly require a new rulemaking—a time-consuming process that would likely be met with legal challenges once the final rule came into force. (See Figure 1) Rulemaking is a time-intensive process—made longer by lawsuits waiting at the end of it.
Joel B. Stronberg
Joel Stronberg, MA, JD., of The JBS Group is a veteran clean energy policy analyst with over 30 years’ experience, based in Washington, DC.