Quantcast

What Climate Deniers Want Next After Winning Paris Pullout

Popular

President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement earlier this month was a clear win for conservative groups and individuals that support the weakening of environmental regulations.

So what do these politically powerful forces have next on the agenda?


The first target could be the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) endangerment finding, David Stevenson, a former EPA transition team member and policy director at the libertarian think tank Caesar Rodney Institute told New Republic.

This Obama-era finding that greenhouse gas emissions endangers public health and welfare might seem wholly unremarkable. However, the endangerment finding not only cemented a consensus within the scientific community, it also legally obligates the EPA to regulate sources of that pollutant under the Clean Air Act—including power plants, cars, trucks and other sources that combust coal, oil and natural gas. By unraveling the endangerment finding, the U.S. is legally washing its hands of climate change litigation brought by environmental groups.

"As long as that's sitting there, the potential for legal challenges just goes on and on and on, and that's not productive for any of us," Stevenson explained.

Undoing the 2009 finding was a major topic of discussion at a March conference hosted by the Heartland Institute, the nation's leading climate skeptic think tank. Reuters reported that at least three conservative groups has petitioned the EPA to undo the finding. Myron Ebell, who led Trump's EPA transition team, similarly considers it a major priority.

As it happens, current EPA administrator and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a lawsuit in 2010 to overturn the endangerment finding, which he and his fellow litigants characterized as "arbitrary and capricious." And let's not forget that Pruitt, who urged Trump to exit from the Paris accord, does not even believe that carbon dioxide is a "primary contributor" to climate change.

However, there could be more sinister moves at play. For one, "undoing the endangerment finding would also empower the federal government to instantly repeal all existing regulations that reduce global warming," New Republic's Emily Atkin noted, such as the Clean Power Plan and Obama-era fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks—two of the Heartland Institute's top five environmental policy priorities.

Other potential post-Paris moves include gutting the scope and powers of the EPA. Stevenson lauded Trump's proposed EPA budget, which cuts the agency's funds by 31 percent.

"There are about 50 small EPA programs that look like they're ineffective," he said. "They're going to be cut."

Lastly, the New Republic piece highlighted one of the most daunting post-Paris goals of all: the "intellectual validation" of climate denial.

"Now that denial is the official policy of the U.S. government, they are getting the legitimacy they desire, whether they deserve it or not," Atkin wrote. "For an ideology based in falsehoods, that is perhaps the greatest victory they could possibly achieve under Trump."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new report spotlights a U.N. estimate that at least 275 million people rely on healthy coral reefs. A sea turtle near the Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef is seen above. THE OCEAN AGENCY / XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY

By Jessica Corbett

In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.

Read More
Half of the extracted resources used were sand, clay, gravel and cement, seen above, for building, along with the other minerals that produce fertilizer. Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images

The world is using up more and more resources and global recycling is falling. That's the grim takeaway from a new report by the Circle Economy think tank, which found that the world used up more than 110 billion tons, or 100.6 billion metric tons, of natural resources, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Read More
Sponsored

By Gero Rueter

Heating with coal, oil and natural gas accounts for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. But that's something we can change, says Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passive House Institute in the western German city of Darmstadt.

Read More
Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016. Markus Spiske / Unsplash

By George Citroner

  • Recent research finds that official government figures may be underestimating drug deaths by half.
  • Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016.
  • Drug use decreases life expectancy after age 15 by 1.4 years for men and by just under 1 year for women, on average.

Government records may be severely underreporting how many Americans die from drug use, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.

Read More
Water coolers in front of shut-off water fountains at Center School in Stow, MA on Sept. 4, 2019 after elevated levels of PFAS were found in the water. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a new nationwide assessment of drinking water systems, the Environmental Working Group found that toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS are far more prevalent than previously thought.

Read More