Trump’s Energy Order Will Hurt State
Will harm environment, forego $55 million savings from energy efficiency.
Let’s be very clear: Wisconsin’s agricultural industry, our tourism industry, the quality and quantity of our water resources, our natural landscapes, and our health are all threatened by fossil fuel industry-funded efforts to block meaningful climate change policies from taking effect.
This is not hyperbole or exaggeration. It is fact.
On Tuesday, Wisconsin and our planet suffered a major setback when President Donald Trump unleashed a full-frontal assault on years of bipartisan progress to protect future generations from the most devastating impacts of climate change.
The president’s reckless executive order begins to roll back the federal Clean Power Plan and rescinds at least six major climate change policies implemented by the previous administration.
The Clean Power Plan is the most significant step our nation ever has taken toward addressing the looming crisis of climate change. Trump’s recent action proved he values fossil fuel industry profits more than he values our children’s health and safety. No one is surprised, but most of us are appalled.
Climate change threatens public health in Wisconsin, particularly for children and seniors, and it also threatens our way of life in this great state.
Warmer winters and shorter periods of snow cover threaten snowmobiling, skiing, hunting, ice fishing and other forms of outdoor recreation Wisconsinites value so much. Erratic and unpredictable precipitation and increasingly frequent extreme weather events threaten farming and cause costly droughts and flooding. Warmer summers open the door to invasive species and diseases and threaten native wildlife habitat. For example, at our current rate of carbon emissions and warming, Wisconsin will lose all of its brook trout habitat by the middle of this century.
The Clean Power Plan’s benefits go beyond climate change. A Clean Wisconsin analysis found that if Wisconsin complied with the Clean Power Plan by, in part, doubling our investment in energy efficiency, then electricity customers would save an average of $55 million a year.
Those are economic benefits everyone should welcome.
Trump’s executive orders won’t stop action on climate change or undo all of the progress stemming from the Paris Agreement that brought all nations together to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. However ambitious, no president can repeal final regulations with a simple order. Creating, modifying or repealing regulations requires an extensive public, government agency and court review process that takes months or even years.
You can be sure Trump administration decisions that violate the Clean Air Act will be challenged in court, and millions of Americans who support a U.S. and international climate plan will support the efforts of Clean Wisconsin and other organizations and forward-thinking states to stop Trump’s misguided policies.
The road ahead is long, and we know a desperate fossil fuel industry will continue to try to confuse and distract the public while spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying, campaign contributions, misinformation and junk science. Nevertheless, Clean Wisconsin and our allies are resolute in our mission to protect Wisconsin’s clean water, clean air and natural heritage, and we’ll keep working for a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous future.
Mark Redsten is president and CEO of Clean Wisconsin, the state’s oldest and largest environmental organization.
This column was originally published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.