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Before Inauguration Day, the Trump era has opened with an extremist agenda that poses an alarming threat to our people, our environment and the core values we share about justice, fair play and our commitment to leave future generations a livable world. Already, we've seen a set of cabinet nominees dominated by fossil fuel advocates, billionaires and bankers; a president-elect who says "nobody really knows" what's happening to our climate; and a full-on witch hunt for the experts who know the truth.
This is not normal. It's the most radical approach to American governance we've seen in our lifetime. Whatever we voted on in November, nobody voted for dirty water and air. Nobody voted to walk away from climate leadership and millions of clean energy jobs. And nobody voted to hand over our country to a pollute-ocracy that puts polluter profits first—and puts the rest of us at risk.
The following list addresses some, but not all, programs, policies and initiatives the Trump administration and GOP lawmakers have targeted. This could become the worst legislative and executive assault in history against the common sense safeguards we all depend on to protect our environment and health. At risk is the water we drink, the air we breathe, our public oceans, coasts and lands and the very approach we've taken for generations in this country to protect our common inheritance.
At the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), we will stand up and hold this government to account, by making sure the public understands what's at stake—for our country, our people and the common future we share.
Climate and Energy
The Clean Power Plan: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the first national standards reducing dangerous carbon pollution from our largest source, fossil fuel power plants. The Clean Power Plan provides reasonable state-specific goals for carbon cuts, flexibility for states to meet them and a federal plan that will cut a key driver of climate change 32 percent by 2030 and stimulate growth in clean energy. More here and here.
International Climate Agreement: The Paris climate agreement signed by nearly 200 nations and effective as of Nov. 4, 2016 is a global response to the threat of climate change. It aims to hold global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. More here and here.
HFC International Commitments: In October 2016, more than 140 countries signed onto the Kigali Agreement, which calls for phasing down powerful climate-warming pollutants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol, the treaty that saved the ozone layer. Industry supports the agreement. More here.
Reducing Methane Pollution and Natural Gas Waste in the Oil and Natural Gas Industry (BLM & EPA): These standards will reduce methane, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and toxic air emissions from fracking and other oil and gas operations. Leaks and purposeful venting waste gas that could be sold and used while threatening health and worsening climate change. More here and here.
Restrictions on public financing for overseas coal projects: The Obama administration restricted U.S. funding for overseas coal power plants to limit climate change. This affects the Export Import Bank and other entities. More here.
Assessing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (CEQ): The White House Council on Environmental Quality issued guidance to federal agencies on analyzing the climate impacts of their proposed actions before deciding on how to proceed. More here.
President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Mexican President Nieto are expected to announce a joint plan to generate half the three nations' electricity from clean power by 2025 at tomorrow's North American Leaders Summit. The plan encompasses not only renewables, but also nuclear power and carbon capture and storage operations.
President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Mexican President Nieto are expected to announce a joint plan to generate half the three nations' electricity from clean power by 2025 at tomorrow's North American Leaders Summit.
Including these sources, 37 percent of the countries' electricity came from clean energy last year. Mexico is also expected to join the U.S. and Canada's target of cutting methane emissions 40 to 45 percent by 2025.
White House senior adviser Brian Deese said the energy target is "an aggressive goal" for the U.S. but "achievable." Deese also said that the cooperation on climate and energy policy between the three countries "is stronger than it has been in decades … In all three countries, there is a significant move toward a clean energy economy."
Sierra Club's executive director Michael Brune agrees. "This agreement means the United States will more than double the amount of clean, renewable energy we get from sources like wind and solar within the next decade. Plus, this new commitment moves us towards achieving this goal five years earlier than under existing agreements.
"This is another demonstration of the international and North American unity behind a consensus for strong global climate action. Now more than ever, it's time we retire dirty and dangerous sources of energy like coal, oil, gas and nuclear, crack down on existing sources ofmethane pollution here at home, and commit toward growing a clean energy economy that creates jobs and protects our communities."
Lou Leonard, senior vice president of climate and energy for the World Wildlife Fund, sees the coming announcement as "a clear signal that cooperation, not isolation, remains atop of the global climate agenda."
"As the largest energy consumer, the United States must lead the way to this collective continent-wide goal by exceeding it at home through truly clean renewable energy and higher energy efficiency, Leonard said. "There's a big gap between what leaders pledged in Paris and the emissions cuts needed to fend off the most dire impacts of climate change. The United States needs to continue to drive international cooperation to accelerate emissions reductions and help developing countries leapfrog dirtier pathways. Today's announcements help move us closer to closing that gap."
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