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Alternative State

Insights + Opinion

Shealah Craighead / White House / Public Domain

Did you make it through Donald Trump's State of the Union address? If you did, congratulations on your endurance. Not everyone can handle sitting through more than an hour of lies, deceit and distortions. Then again, we've all been surviving and fighting through the past 12 months of this administration. Resistance takes stamina, and it's clear that it's made us stronger.


It's also enabled us to stop the worst of this administration's attempts to hurt our families and our communities. Because of you, we've been able to fight back every single time that this administration and president have assaulted our families and communities and tried to undermine safeguards to protect our air, our water, our forests, our climate—even our democracy.

Last night's speech, though, was a reminder that we have much more work to do. Viewing it was almost like being in an alternative reality. We were forced to watch an ugly celebration—with standing ovations—of racist ideals and policies. We had to witness the exploitation of grieving parents. And then came one of the most enthusiastic ovations of all—for irresponsible attacks on our air, water and climate. They say it was only the third-longest address to Congress in history, but it felt interminable.

Now that we're back in the real world, though, here are some non-alternative facts:

Fact #1: Coal is not coming back. A coal plant has retired every 16 days since Trump was elected, and we'll continue to see coal-fired power replaced by solar, wind, energy efficiency and storage. We know that clean, renewable energy creates more jobs, while also cutting air, water and climate pollution. On top of that, renewable energy saves money for millions of Americans.

So no matter how "beautiful" Trump finds it, coal is never coming back. Every time Trump promises a revival of the coal industry, he's making a pledge he cannot keep and betraying the long-suffering coal workers and their families—and communities that need a vision for a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Fact #2: Ours is a nation of laws. For decades now, those laws have helped to protect our air and safeguard our water. They are the basis for protecting our climate. And they are the bulwark that defends our democracy from a chaos president like this one. This nation of laws lifts up the quality of life of all Americans (even if that means someday bringing down this administration).

Fact #3: Clean energy is still winning. More than 50 U.S. cities have now made a commitment to clean, renewable energy. They are governed by both Republicans and Democrats. They are located in red states, blues states and almost every part of this country. Regardless of what the Trump administration does, we will continue to see visionary local, state, regional and corporate leaders raise the level of their ambition to advance energy and displace fossil fuels in the process. That was already happening before Trump, but his election has accelerated and amplified the trend.

Finally, as we enter year two of this administration, I want to once again thank everybody who has been organizing and working all across the country to resist its attacks. You haven't given up. That's why, in spite of this president, we've been able to defeat pipelines, defeat coal and gas plants, and stand up for our democracy and for workers, families and immigrants. The biggest silver lining: In the process, we've found the vibrant heart of our democracy at the intersection of civil rights, environmental justice and many other issues. So keep marching, organizing and working to stand up for the best that this country can be. And be assured that the Sierra Club will stand with you.

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