By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent
25 January 2017
Are the recent actions taken by the Trump team on the issues of climate and energy the opening shots in a war on knowledge?
Or are they simply what you’d expect from a new administration of a different political hue?
Let’s examine what we know.
Just after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president, a range of information on the White House website related to climate change was moved to an Obama online archive.
The only references to rising temperatures on the new Trump White House site are a commitment to eliminate “harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan”. This was President Obama’s broad-based strategy to cut carbon emissions.
The brief White House document now contains a further indication of the green priorities of the new administration. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should focus on its “essential mission of protecting our air and water”.
Thom talks about what’s happening at Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline under the new administration with guest Josh Fox, activist and filmmaker (Gasland I & II and his newest film, How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things the Climate Can’t Change).
Yesterday, as one of his first ten executive actions, President Trump made good on one of his campaign promises and signed actions that reopen the way for approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. The oil industry and its supporters are cheering the move. Opponents – environmentalists, Native Americans, landowners, many who fought to block construction of the pipelines – say they will continue to fight. Lynda Mapes from the Seattle Times and Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, join us to explore the meaning of the order.
“The important thing to recognize here is what didn’t happen,” Mapes told us. “You can’t do government by Twitter. The thing about what happened yesterday is it means nothing and everything.”
The executive order issued yesterday was a memorandum to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with three specific options — an expedition of the Dakota Access Pipeline plan review process, the rescinding of the order to conduct an environmental review of the plan or the issue of the easement to continue the final segment of the pipeline construction, Mapes said.
“There are crews standing by in hotel rooms to get a green light and get going,” Mapes said. “But even if the pipeline is completed, a court can intervene to stop the flow of oil.”
And the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline could also be expedited under the new executive order.
“There’s that much that the President can do in the short term to make this pipeline a reality, but his action yesterday made clear his willingness to put this back on the table,” Brune told us. “He has indicated a willingness to have this pipeline be built. There’s no specific route that has been outlined to allow the pipeline to be built in Nebraska.”
Still, neither pipeline is a guaranteed done deal, quite yet. Mapes brought up the market conditions for crude oil prices that might not necessarily support the need for both massive pipeline projects.
“Opposition on the ground is still very serious,” Mapes said.
President Donald Trump, left center, host breakfast with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
In our 100 Day Spotlight: President Trump says he’ll cut regulation by 75 percent, maybe more. What would deregulation mean for the economy, for workers, for the environment? Plus: The President approves the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.
The pace is quickening, the reach extending, in the new Trump administration’s moves to put its stamp on national policy. Inside the government, gag orders – in effect – on environment and science staffers speaking to the public. Presidential orders to revive the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. And a broad promise by President Trump to sweep away federal regulation. This hour in our On Point 100-day Spotlight, pipelines, blackouts, and the Trump way of regulatory reform. — Tom Ashbrook
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
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