President-elect Donald Trump has a brand-new website with a .gov address. It features images of grassland and wide-open skies — and, if you read between the lines, the solemn promise to devastate planet Earth.
If you visit greatagain.gov, click “Making America Great Again” and then “Making American Secure Again,” and you’ll find a link to a page on energy independence.
Here’s what it says:
“The Trump Administration will make America energy independent. Our energy policies will make full use of our domestic energy sources, including traditional and renewable energy sources. America will unleash an energy revolution that will transform us into a net energy exporter, leading to the creation of millions of new jobs, while protecting the country’s most valuable resources — our clean air, clean water, and natural habitats. America is sitting on a treasure trove of untapped energy. In fact, America possesses more combined coal, oil, and natural gas resources than any other nation on Earth. These resources represent trillions of dollars in economic output and countless American jobs, particularly for the poorest Americans.
“Rather than continuing the current path to undermine and block America’s fossil fuel producers, the Trump Administration will encourage the production of these resources by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters. We will streamline the permitting process for all energy projects, including the billions of dollars in projects held up by President Obama, and rescind the job-destroying executive actions under his Administration. We will end the war on coal, and rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, the excessive Interior Department stream rule, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration. We will eliminate the highly invasive ‘Waters of the US’ rule, and scrap the $5 trillion dollar Obama-Clinton Climate Action Plan and the Clean Power Plan and prevent these unilateral plans from increasing monthly electric bills by double-digits without any measurable effect on Earth’s climate. Energy is the lifeblood of modern society.
“It is the industry that fuels all other industries. We will lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities. It’s all upside: more jobs, more revenues, more wealth, higher wages, and lower energy prices.
“The Trump Administration is firmly committed to conserving our wonderful natural resources and beautiful natural habitats. America’s environmental agenda will be guided by true specialists in conservation, not those with radical political agendas. We will refocus the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans. It will be a future of conservation, of prosperity, and of great success.”
In other words: Trump plans to allow corporations to haul vast amounts of carbon out of the Earth and burn it, releasing untold tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. He plans to walk back the United States’ international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He plans to make it easier for coal companies to poison drinking water. And he plans to bar from government any of the 97%+ of climate scientists who form the overwhelming consensus on climate change.
This is a pledge to reject science and cook the planet. The climate is changing, the ice sheets aremelting, and sea levels are rising. Serious scientists are uniformly in agreement on this point, and what few skeptics remained have changed their minds in light of the evidence of the last decade. To deny this is to mislead, or to betray staggering ignorance.
Trump claims scientists who study and present this reality have “radical political agendas.” However, the fact that he will now wield the levers of power does not make it less true that his denial is actually the radical stance.
The US is one of the largest global emitters, and early estimates suggest a two-term Trump presidency would lead to an additional 3.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If this happens, it would likely represent the death of any hope of holding climate change to 2 degrees Celsius, as world leaders committed to in Paris this year.
There’s a lot more to say on the subject of the specific policies Trump promises to repeal, such as the danger of lifting regulations designed to prevent coal companies from poisoning drinking water — which has been a problem in communities across the US.
But for now let’s focus on the bigger picture here. Why would Trump do this?
Here’s one answer. As Sarah Kliff, Ezra Klein, and Matt Yglesias pointed out in the November 9 episode of their podcast, “The Weeds,” there are fairly straightforward steps a president can take to boost the economy in the short term if he’s willing to ignore long-term consequences.
Trump could appoint a Federal Reserve chair who would pour cash into big banks, despite the long-term effects of inflation. He could dramatically cut taxes without cutting government programs and run up trillions of dollars in debt. And he could, as he promises on his new website, unshackle extraction corporations, allowing them to trade air, water, and climate safety for profit.