UNITED STATES: On Tuesday, August 21, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled plans to roll back Obama-era regulations on emissions from coal-fired power plants and give states the power to regulate their own emissions. These rules would undo much of the progress the Obama administration made in the fight against climate change and cause catastrophic consequences on our environment. The Trump administration is adamant about bringing back jobs from the coal sector and looks to breathe new life into an environmentally destructive industry. But there are many eco-friendly alternatives available to lessen the environmental effects this plan will cause.
The EPA’s new plan is called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which is ironic because it’s neither affordable nor clean. Even the EPA can’t defend this plan very well. According to their findings, the EPA said the plan could cause the early deaths of 1,400 people every year and cost at least $1.4 billion annually. The Obama administration looked to cut power plant emissions by 32 percent by 2030, but the EPA’s plan threatens to end that goal.
With the EPA’s plan heading toward harmful consequences, it would be wise to consider other forms of energy which are more sustainable and gentler on our environment. President Trump wants to bring back coal jobs for his loyal supporters but the coal industry is dying off for good reasons, and jobs in renewable energy are peaking. In fact, there are several pros to solar energy, which help to reduce consumer’s energy costs and decrease the country’s carbon footprint.
With a variety of renewable energy options available, there’s no need to fight for coal plants when fighting against climate change should be a priority. While traditional power plants rely on the combustion of fossil fuels to produce energy, renewable energy sources such as wind power can provide for people’s energy needs without the same detrimental impacts as fossil fuels. As the coal industry experiences massive cutbacks, the wind power industry is booming. In 2016, 100,000 workers were employed, and wind turbine technicians are in high demand right now.
Going backward in the fight for climate change
As unrestrained mining and exploration continue in order to fulfil the needs of our growth-obsessed economy, sea levels rise and oceans continue to be littered with plastic, sea temperatures are reaching unbearable levels for our coral reefs and on land, droughts are affecting our farmers, it’s clear we need to do something soon before the crisis becomes too severe. But the EPA’s plan isn’t helping in that fight, and it’s up to us to ensure our environment won’t be destroyed. Luckily, many are standing up to speak their mind about this plan and protest against this dismantlement of Obama-era regulations.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said she will sue the Trump administration and fight to block its passage if this plan moves forward as proposed. In addition, a coalition of 19 cities and states, including New York and California, have united to defend the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan in court.
The EPA’s plan also jeopardizes a resource that’s essential to all life on Earth; water. According to research on clean water solutions by Ohio University, “70% of U.S. countries could face water shortages by 2050 because of climate change.” The EPA’s plan will surely accelerate the growth of climate change and force us to face water shortages sooner.
Increased temperatures due to the changing climate could also prolong droughts that are already occurring across the country, as well as reduce snowpacks and contribute earlier mountain snow thaws. But technology is being created to ensure clean water is available to everyone. Wind energy is helping to conserve water by alleviating drought effects around the U.S. and displacing water consumption at power plants. Desalinization, a process in which salt is extracted from seawater, brings millions of people fresh water around the world. Several counties across the country are now using wastewater as a form of drinking water by recycling and purifying it.
With this new plan introduced however, our planet’s sustainability is at risk. After all, the US is one of the world’s biggest emitters of carbon, second only to China.
For over 50 years, the US government has taken steps to ensure our environment is clean and healthy to live in. From the first Earth Day in 1970 to the Energy Policy Act signed into law in 2005, our government has recognised the importance of a safe, clean environment and has historically worked to protect it. But the current administration has challenged the issue of climate change from day one, which comes as no surprise since President Trump himself is a frequent and very public climate change denier. That Trump pulled the United States from the Paris Agreement left those in the sustainability movement in shock. With this one decision, he wiped away years of tremendous progress made in the name of sustainability, and dashing the hopes of many sustainability advocates and environmental activists.
According to research on the evolution of sustainability from Northeastern University, over $100 million has been raised for environmental protections to date, and $22 million has been given to environmental education. The Trump administration and the EPA are threatening to dismantle these accomplishments, and many more that could have been achieved had they left Obama’s Clean Power Plan alone.
Nonetheless, activists around the world are denouncing the EPA’s plan and The Trump administration’s environmental agenda would only hurt our country and let climate change destroy our planet. Global warming is the single biggest threat to our survival today, and we need to mobilize before it’s too late.