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.
50 Ways 100% Clean Energy Won In 2017 https://t.co/t8mxstdoTP @Good_Energy @GregBarkerMP— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1514715006.0
This Sunday marks the first anniversary of the Women's March that happened on the day after Donald Trump's inauguration—the largest protest march in our nation's history. The Sierra Club was there that day, and we'll be there this year, too—at a significant moment for women's rights and justice.
Some people still ask whether "rights and justice for women" qualifies as an "environmental issue." In their minds, the Sierra Club, as an environmental organization, should stick to a prescribed list of issues that are "environmental" and otherwise mind its own business.
I have two responses to this: one specific and one more general. First, women's rights are absolutely an environmental issue. Among our most basic human rights are the ability to breathe clean air, drink clean water and live in a healthy environment. Toxic pollution and climate disruption threaten those rights for everyone, but the consequences often fall hardest on women. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, for instance, 80 percent of those left behind in the Lower Ninth Ward were women. For women, exposure to toxic pollution, the risk of sexual violence and the denial of basic reproductive healthcare are not discrete threats; they are a knotted pattern of injustice that must be disentangled and eradicated.
The more general problem, though, is this notion of "issues." Yes, the Sierra Club tackles social justice and environmental issues, but our work would be meaningless if it were not motivated by something deeper: values.
Our values are fairly simple. We believe in justice, equality and opportunity for all people. We reject violence and hatred. It's our values that mandate our support of the Women's March. It's our values that demand racial justice. It's our values that tell us we must defend the rights of immigrants and help communities that have been devastated by fossil fuel pollution. As school children recite each morning in their pledge to the flag: "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
It's clear that many of our opponents neither share nor respect the same values we do. Attacking women's rights, denying healthcare to millions, cold-heartedly expelling Dreamers and refusing refugees, ignoring climate science, turning their backs on the world, tearing down protections for people and for places—those actions speak to what they do esteem: privilege, self-interest, ignorance and greed.
When the marching begins this Saturday, the Sierra Club will be there in solidarity with women and everyone else who has come under attack during the past year. We care passionately about clean air, clean water, clean energy, public lands and gender equity, because the same basic values underlie them all. It's when all of us who share those values come together that we can make positive change happen.
To find the location of the march nearest you, visit the Women's March Anniversary Map.
While solar energy has plenty of benefits, there are also high upfront costs associated with installing a home renewable energy system. So, at the end of the day, are solar panels worth it?
If you want to minimize your ecological impact while reducing or even eliminating monthly utility bills, solar panels may be well worth the money. But they may not be the best solution for every home. In this article, we'll review solar panel costs, longevity and return on investment to help you decide whether they're right for you.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
The first thing to be aware of is that installing a residential solar system is always going to be expensive. Yes, saving money on your monthly utility bills can help balance that startup expense, and you can get some incentives to help undercut the cost of solar panels (more on that in a moment). But ultimately, there's no way around it: Investing in a residential solar system can be pricey.
How pricey, exactly? Your total solar energy system cost will depend on a myriad of factors, including the type of solar panels you choose, the number of panels required for your home, and the specific solar panel installation company you hire.
With that said, according to Sunrun, the average cost of installing solar panels in 2021 is between $16,200 to $21,400. And it's worth noting that this actually represents a significant drop in the price tag for solar panels. Solar installation is becoming more and more affordable, even if the startup price remains a little daunting.
Offsetting the Cost of Solar Panels
Something else to be aware of is that, over the past decade or so, both the federal government and many state governments have unveiled programs to provide financial incentives for solar installation. These programs include local and federal tax credits and other rebates. Top solar companies are usually able to help you identify and apply to any programs you are eligible for.
The current federal solar tax credit, called an Investment Tax Credit (ITC) provides a 26% credit for systems installed between 2020 and 2022. State incentives can be added on top for even more savings. However, even with numerous solar incentives, pricing and solar panel installation costs can still be steep.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
As you think about the initial startup investment in solar panels, another question to consider is system longevity. After you buy solar panels, how long do they last? Will they function long enough for you to get your money's worth?
Again, the answer can vary slightly depending on the specific type of solar panels you choose. As a rule of thumb, however, most residential solar systems last between 20 and 30 years and require only the most minimal maintenance and upkeep. Most of the best solar panels come backed with fairly rigorous warranties, ensuring your system holds up for at least two decades. Of course, when purchasing a solar panel system, you'll want to take a close look at the warranty information offered.
The longevity of your solar panel system can also add to the value of your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buyers nationwide have been willing to pay an average premium of about $15,000 for a home with a solar array. In many cases, that alone can cover most of all of your solar investment.
How Much Money Will You Save With Solar Panels?
Related to the question of panel longevity is the question of a solar power system's return on investment, or ROI. How much power is a home solar system going to generate? How much money will it save you? Will month-to-month electric bill savings mean that your solar system "pays for itself" after a few years?
The amount of money you save on your monthly utility costs can vary depending on the efficiency and power of your solar panels, as well as your household energy consumption habits. Keep in mind that your savings will be greater if you live in an area where electricity rates are higher; by contrast, if you live somewhere with a lower cost of electricity, the money you save from going solar may be comparatively meager.
EnergySage notes that, over the lifespan of your solar system, you're likely to save anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 on utility costs. This may or may not be enough for the unit to "pay for itself," though an upside of solar power ROI is that it's fairly instantaneous. Once your system is installed, you'll be able to start saving money right away.
Free Quote: See How Solar Panels Would Cost for Your Home
Fill out this 30-second form to get a quote from one of the best solar energy companies in your area. You could an average of $2,500 each year on your electric bills and receive a tax rebate.
Are Solar Panels Worth It for Your House?
Ultimately, whether solar panels are worth it will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case and home-by-home basis. Simply put, solar power is a smarter option for some than for others. The question is, how can you tell whether you're a good candidate for solar panels?
Best Candidates for Solar Power
Solar panels tend to be a better investment for homeowners who meet the following criteria:
- Ample exposure to sun: If you live in a part of the country that gets lots of exposure to sunlight throughout the year, then you'll probably get more mileage out of your solar panels. It's little wonder that solar power is most popular in places like Arizona, Texas, California and even North Carolina.
- Accommodating roof space: A good solar system will require plenty of surface area on your roof, unobstructed by skylights, chimneys or other fixtures. With a smaller roof, you can still potentially install a system, but you'll need to find the most efficient solar panels (which are often more expensive) to maximize your limited space.
- High electricity bills: The amount of money you save by going solar will be directly proportional to the amount you spend each month on electrical costs. So, if you live in a community where the price of electricity is pretty high, you stand to achieve greater savings when you go solar.
Who's Not a Good Candidate for Solar Power?
By contrast, some homes may not be as well-positioned to reap a high solar power ROI.
- Homes without much sun exposure: If you know anything about how solar panels work, it won't be a surprise that darker areas benefit less from this renewable energy source. In a place where there tends to be a lot of cloud coverage or more limited solar exposure for good chunks of the year, the jump to solar may not be as advantageous.
- Homes with too much shade: Similarly, if your roof tends to be shaded for long stretches of the day (for example, if your home is in the shadow of a larger building or a lot of dense trees), then your solar panels may not get the sun exposure they need to generate a solid ROI.
- You pay lower costs for electricity: If your electrical bills are already fairly minimal, then installing a residential solar system will yield more modest and measured savings.
- You don't have the right kind of roof: Certain types of roofs just aren't as well-suited for solar power installation. For example, older or historic homes that have particular kinds of tiled roofs and homes that have larger skylights may not be good matches for solar energy.
How to Determine Your Solar Power ROI
Is solar worth it for you and your household? There are a few steps you can take to weigh solar energy pros and cons and make an informed decision.
One option is to consult with a solar panel installation company that can assess your roof and your positioning in relation to the sun, then supply you with a basic estimate of how much money you could save by installing solar panels. Reputable installers can also provide greater detail about the different types of solar panels that are available and recommend the technology you'll need to realize a significant solar power ROI for your home.
Even before you take the initial step and meet with a solar installer, a number of solar companies offer online calculators, which you can use to estimate your monthly utility savings. We'll stress that these calculators only give a very rough estimate and should be taken lightly, but they can still create a basic sense of whether solar panels are worth it for your home.
So, Are Solar Panels Worth It? It All Depends...
The bottom line for homeowners: Solar energy represents one of the best ways to reduce your dependence on traditional utility companies. And for many homeowners, solar power ROI will be well worth it. With that said, the startup cost can be prohibitive, and not every homeowner will achieve the same bang for their buck.
As you consider whether solar panels are a sound investment for your home, make sure you take into account cost, warranty, longevity and overall efficiency, all while seeking guidance from qualified solar experts.
For Donald Trump, people seem to belong in one of four categories: family, assets, enemies or irrelevant. Most of the American public has been consigned to the last category. That's why you'll never catch this president rhapsodizing about the honor of public service. The sole basis, apparently, for any decision Donald Trump makes is whether he believes it will help Donald Trump. The concept of public welfare—including whether people live or die—simply isn't part of his calculus.
That was reinforced Wednesday as Trump announced that his asset at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, will replace the Clean Power Plan. Carefully developed during the Obama administration as a way to limit carbon pollution from power plants, the Clean Power Plan is a centerpiece of our nation's climate policy. Pruitt, though, claims that because the plan demands clean air, it is effectively picking winners and losers in the energy market. After all, if the goal is clean air, then dirty fuels can't compete because they're, well, dirty.
In that respect, Pruitt's correct: The Clean Power Plan does prioritize people and public health over polluters. Besides protecting our climate, it would prevent 3,600 premature deaths annually by 2030, as well as tens of thousands of childhood asthma attacks. You might think that's reason enough to keep it, and you'd be right. But in fact, the plan was developed not only because it makes sense to limit carbon pollution but also because the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has a legal responsibility to do so under the Clean Air Act.
So Pruitt can't just throw out the plan—he needs to replace it with one that favors fossil fuel corporations and somehow appears to satisfy the Clean Air Act mandate. The only way to do that, it turns out, is to downplay the benefits of the current plan while exaggerating its cost. This, after all, is the administration that invented "alternative facts."
But although Trump and Pruitt may ignore the facts (the real ones, that is), they can't make them disappear, nor can they easily convince people that dirtier air and more pollution are better than cleaner air and less pollution. In fact, nearly seven-in-ten U.S. voters support "strict limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants," which is exactly what the Clean Power Plan provides.
Nor can Trump and Pruitt hide forever that they don't actually care about helping coal communities cope with that industry's inevitable decline. Instead of helping people transition to jobs in a clean-energy economy, they've resorted to yet another act of political theatre intended to increase the divisions that make it harder to solve real problems.
Our resistance to this dangerous decision will be fierce and unrelenting. When the EPA conducts its legally required comment period on Pruitt's proposal, the Sierra Club will mobilize to make sure the voices of the vast majority of Americans who don't want more polluted air are heard. At the same time, you can be sure that we will challenge in court any dirty-fuels strategy that violates the Clean Air Act, which is still the law of the land.
Donald Trump's presidency is failing the American people on every major issue: immigration, health care, racial justice—you name it. It's no surprise to find public health, clean energy and climate action on that list. But our progress on replacing dirty fuels with clean energy will not be stopped, no matter how hard Trump and Pruitt try to hit the brakes. In a rational world, though, with the effects of climate disruption never more obvious, we would be increasing our ambition to combat it, not devoting resources to defending progress we've already made.
Tuesday in the midst of a national emergency along the Gulf Coast, Donald Trump's attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, is set to announce the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, leaving it up to congress to protect the more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants in the program. DACA, put in place by the Obama administration, provided protections from deportations and the ability to work and attend school for young undocumented immigrants or Dreamers, brought to the U.S. as children. Houston is home to 56,800 dreamers.
Trump's mean-spirited decision to terminate DACA endangers the safety of hundreds of thousands of our friends, family members and neighbors. These are young people who came to the United States with a dream to make a better life, and they are making our country better as a result.
The immigrant rights and environmental movements' concerns are intertwined. Those communities most threatened by Trump's presidency—immigrants, communities of color and women—are also most vulnerable to toxic pollution and climate change. The Sierra Club is in solidarity with all those who have helped strengthen our country through DACA and we strongly oppose the bigotry being stoked by the White House against immigrants.
The Trump administration released its objectives Monday for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The objectives suggest a repeat of labor and environmental provisions from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a deal whose demise Donald Trump widely took credit for—that were deemed too weak by virtually all leading labor and environmental groups. On other critical questions, the ostensibly "detailed" negotiating objectives provide no details, such as whether corporations will continue to be able to use NAFTA to sue governments over environmental protections in unaccountable tribunals of corporate lawyers.
Earlier this year, leading environmental groups laid out a platform for replacing NAFTA with a trade deal that protects communities across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The plans released by the administration Monday are generally silent on these objectives, and those outlined by unions, family farmers and consumer groups. Instead of concrete objectives, Monday's announcement contained vague platitudes.
In a blunt display of hypocrisy, Donald Trump appears to want to copy and paste the weak labor and environmental provisions of the TPP, a deal that Trump claimed to hate. Based on Monday's "plan," one could be forgiven for concluding that Trump's opposition to the TPP was merely political theater and this administration has no intent of fundamentally changing NAFTA.
Throughout his campaign, Trump pledged to workers and communities across the country that he would immediately fix a trade deal that has eroded wages and increased pollution. Instead, his long-awaited NAFTA "plan" keeps workers and communities in the dark and offers only vague tweaks to a corporate trade deal that has harmed workers and communities for more than two decades.
The only way the deal that replaces NAFTA will benefit the public is if the negotiation process is conducted in the open, not in a corporate board room. Unsurprisingly, that doesn't look like that's what Trump has in mind. We cannot afford another trade deal that locks out the public and locks in fossil fuel dependency.
At the conclusion of this year's contentious G-20 summit, the countries released a communique on climate that placed Donald Trump starkly at odds with every other nation present. The communique noted that every country aside from the U.S. recognizes that the Paris agreement is "irreversible," reaffirmed their "strong commitment" and will move "swiftly towards its full implementation in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities."
Trade was another major point of contention as the countries tussled over conflicting visions for the future of trade policy. The resulting communique on trade did not mention the need to change trade policies to align with climate objectives. Instead, Trump announced plans for a "very big" trade deal with the United Kingdom to be done "very, very quickly."
The 19 nations—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the European Union—represent the majority of the world's economic output and population. The G-20 was Trump's first major international summit since announcing that he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement.
Donald Trump is learning the hard way that he cannot thwart the entire world on climate change and expect to continue with business as usual. Trump's historically irresponsible decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement has left the U.S. isolated on the world stage.
The other 19 leaders of the world's largest economies stood shoulder to shoulder in unified support for the Paris agreement. Given the choice between following Trump or standing strong for climate action, not a single world leader decided to back him. That's unprecedented, and it shows how deeply unpopular and misguided Trump's attack on the Paris agreement has been, and how much damage it has done to U.S. credibility and standing in the world.
While trade was another major sticking point in the summit, one question was notably absent from the debate: How can we move from trade rules written by and for corporate polluters to ones that support climate action? We need trade deals that enforce rather than undermine the Paris climate agreement. To achieve this, the world—once again—cannot afford to wait for Trump. Instead of a trade rethink, Trump announced plans for a trade deal with the United Kingdom to be done "very, very quickly." We cannot afford to expand the old, polluter-friendly trade model with more backdoor deals that lock out public input and lock in fossil fuel dependency.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone region on Thursday from the Endangered Species List. The decision comes despite serious concerns in the scientific community about a declining, isolated population with diminishing food resources and record-high mortalities, as well as strong opposition from an unprecedented number of Tribal Nations.
The Trump administration turned a deaf ear to repeated calls for consultation from dozens of Tribal Nations. States have already made it clear that without endangered species protections, immediate steps will be taken to reduce the number of bears in the area, including through trophy hunting—a move that will reverse grizzly bear recovery in the region.
This premature decision to remove endangered species protections could set grizzly recovery back by decades. It is an egregious affront to Tribal Nations that consider grizzly bears sacred, and it's bad news for the Yellowstone region's outdoor economy.
Without necessary Endangered Species protections, the survival of grizzly bears in Greater Yellowstone is put in jeopardy. Inadequate requirements for healthy bear populations, combined with hostile state management practices, threaten to reverse the progress made toward bear recovery. The end result will be fewer bears restricted to an even smaller area. Grizzly bears will be killed through trophy hunts on the doorstep of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks instead of inspiring millions who come to the region just for a chance to see a live grizzly bear in the wild.
People and bears can coexist—and as grizzly recovery so far has demonstrated, can do so in a way that is highly beneficial to all. However, coexistence cannot work if misplaced political hostility continues to impede the ability of sound science to keep bears from sliding back towards extinction.
Scott Pruitt took to the Sunday shows today in a troubled attempt to spin the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, amid a firestorm of international and domestic criticism.
In his appearances this morning, Pruitt was hammered for admitting that he and Trump never discussed climate change, criticized for his support of the declining coal industry and slammed for dodging questions about Trump's acceptance of climate science. The Trump administration has misrepresented academic studies, the reality of the Green Climate Fund, India and China's commitments, and much more. Distorting everything from climate science to the Sierra Club's own strong support of the Paris agreement, Pruitt's appearances are littered with the same kind of deceit that marked his Senate testimony, where he lied about everything from using personal email for government business to climate science.
This administration's increasingly defensive attempts to spin their disastrous decision to leave the Paris agreement knows no bounds, no shame, and no respect for reality. Contrary to Pruitt's distortions, the Sierra Club said then and we believe now that the Paris climate agreement marks a historic turning point for humanity, and no amount of lies spewed by Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt can ever change that.
After making this historic mistake, the administration has been met with a tidal wave of criticism and action that undermines their position. World leaders are slamming Trump and creating their own alliances that leave the U.S. behind. Three coal plants closed the same day Trump announced he would not honor our country's climate commitments. The next day, three more plants were announced for closure in Missouri, along with a massive investment in local wind power. The Mayor of Pittsburgh—the city Trump cited as to why he was withdrawing from Paris—joined the mayors of Orlando, Florida, Columbia, South Carolina and Portland, Oregon in committing to 100 percent clean energy. Trump and Pruitt are on the ropes and they are flailing to defend themselves with shockingly confounding explanations.
Pruitt claims we are making progress on emissions reductions while not acknowledging his 14 lawsuits against the EPA, attempting to undermine that progress. Pruitt and Trump are attacking the efficacy of a climate change agreement while not acknowledging the reality of climate science. They are even claiming the Sierra Club didn't support this agreement when we were on the ground in Paris fighting for it. They seem to have five different explanations, none of which are true.
Here are the facts. By withdrawing from the Paris agreement, Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump are turning their backs on American families, eating away at America's global leadership and standing alone on the wrong side of history.
Donald Trump announced today that he intends to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. According to the terms of the agreement, no country can begin the withdrawal process until three years after the agreement enters into force and the withdrawal would not take effect for one year after that date.
The agreement, which entered into force on Nov. 4, 2016, has been signed by every nation on Earth except war-torn Syria and Nicaragua, which would like it to be even stronger. Since the agreement came into force and Trump began to waver, dozens of countries—including India, China and the EU—have reaffirmed their commitment. The earliest the U.S. will be able to complete the withdrawal is Nov. 4, 2020, one day after the next U.S. Presidential election.A recent Yale Program on Climate Change Communication poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans, including a majority in all 50 states, support the U.S. participating in the Paris agreement.
Generations from now, Americans will look back at Donald Trump's decision to leave the Paris agreement as one of the most ignorant and dangerous actions ever taken by any president. Trump's decision to ignore the vast majority of the American public and the scientific community will harm our country, costing us lives, jobs and our role as a world leader. Trump has isolated our country on the world stage, ceding our leadership position and our economic advantage on clean energy to India and China, and justifying it all by chanting a slogan from a baseball hat.
It's hard to overstate the negative consequences at home and abroad of this foolish, self-destructive move that will only help boost profits for few of the worst polluters while risking the health of our families and communities. Future scholars will search in vain to find a President with this level of disdain for reality and the future of humanity.
Effective leaders are driving state and local action in the United States, moving strongly forward as coal plants across the country continue to retire, dirty fossil fuel infrastructure investments falter, and innovative policies drive clean energy jobs like solar and wind to profound new heights. With our allies, Sierra Club members and supporters have helped retire more than 250 polluting coal plants in recent years, and also ensured that more than 25 American cities, from Atlanta, Georgia to San Diego, California, have committed to getting 100 percent of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2030.
American climate advocates have a message for the world: we aren't waiting around for Donald Trump to pull his head out of the sand, and neither should you. The Paris agreement is the collective achievement of leaders around the world, and it cannot and will not be derailed by the ignorance of one man whose term of office is highly uncertain.
Watch Trump's announcement here (starts 37 minutes into the video).
It was widely reported this morning that Donald Trump intends to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. According to the terms of the agreement, no country can begin the withdrawal process until three years after the agreement enters into force.
Donald Trump has made a historic mistake which our grandchildren will look back on with stunned dismay at how a world leader could be so divorced from reality and morality. Trump has abandoned the standard of American leadership, turned his back on the what the public and the market demand, and shamelessly disregarded the safety of our families just to let the fossil fuel industry eek out a few more dollars in profits. This is a decision that will cede America's role internationally to nations like China and India, which will benefit handsomely from embracing the booming clean energy economy while Trump seeks to drive our country back into the 19th century.
But the world should know that state and local action in the U.S. is moving strongly forward even in the face of Trump's historic mistake. For every terrible decision Trump makes, grassroots activists, frontline communities, local governments and concerned people across the country are fighting to make sure clean energy continues to grow by leaps and bounds. With our allies, Sierra Club members and supporters have helped retire more than 250 polluting coal plants and ensured more than 25 American cities have already committed to getting 100 percent of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2030.
Our resistance is sustainable and we will serve as a counterpoint to Trump's dangerous policies every step of the way. Like leaders across the world, we aren't going to wait around for our climate denier-in-chief to play catch up. As we win locally, countries across the world are already moving forward on meeting and surpassing their climate commitments. Make no mistake: the Paris agreement was adopted after decades of climate advocacy by concerned citizens across America and around the world, and it certainly will not be derailed by the ignorance of one man.
The Trump administration notified Congress Thursday of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. Throughout his candidacy, Trump proclaimed he would "announce" plans to "totally renegotiate" NAFTA on "day one" of his presidency. Today is the 119th day of his presidency.
Today's notification from the Trump administration consists of two pages and does not offer any concrete plans for NAFTA renegotiation. Previously, a more detailed draft renegotiation notice from the administration leaked, revealing plans to keep many of NAFTA's most damaging elements intact. In contrast, the Sierra Club and other leading environmental groups have released eight specific and fundamental changes to NAFTA that must be included in any replacement deal.
NAFTA remains broken, but Trump's empty rhetoric will not fix it. We need a serious plan to replace NAFTA with a people-first approach to trade. All indications thus far show that Trump will fail to deliver.
Donald Trump promised that he'd fix NAFTA on his first day in office. 119 days later he has managed to send Congress a two-page letter that fails to include any real plan to fix a deal that has undermined environmental protections, eliminated jobs, undercut wages, polluted our air and water and fueled climate change. If Trump's cabinet full of corporate polluters and Wall Street billionaires is any indication of what he has planned, his NAFTA redux will likely include even more handouts to the corporations that have used NAFTA to profit off of Americans' misfortune for more than 20 years.
Across the country, people are calling for an entirely new approach to trade; one that prioritizes people and the planet over polluters. A new trade deal must support good union jobs, livable wages, healthy communities, clean air and water and a more stable climate. Any deal that falls short of these widely-shared priorities will face vigorous opposition from the same movement of millions—across sectors, borders and party lines—that defeated the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive directive Tuesday to the Commonwealth's Department of Environmental Quality and the Air Pollution Control Board that will lead to a strong limit on carbon pollution from power plants through regional cooperation.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will now begin crafting plans to develop a program to reduce carbon pollution in the state. Executive Directive 11 is designed to ensure Virginia's energy future includes a structure that enforces carbon-reduction mechanisms. This is the result of the Executive Order 57 process, through which more than 10,000 Virginians called on the governor to use his authority to reduce carbon pollution.
Meanwhile, clean energy growth in Virginia continues to rise. According to the governor's office, the clean energy economy is creating $1.5 billion in revenue, solar jobs are up 65 percent since 2014 and solar installations have risen 1,200 percent in just the last year.
The Sierra Club applauds Gov. McAuliffe for protecting the health of Virginia families and communities. This is a perfect example of how states and local governments can ensure our nation takes climate action even as Donald Trump buries his head in the sand while the seas are rising. Leaders like Gov. McAuliffe know we have a moral obligation to act and will seize economic opportunities when we do, as the clean energy economy is already proving it will create good-paying jobs while powering homes and businesses.
No one can ignore the progress on climate action and clean energy on the state and local levels. This important policy comes on the same day as the announcement of the 253rd coal plant retirement since the beginning of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign and on the heels of Hanover, New Hampshire becoming the 29th city to commit to 100 percent clean energy as part of our Ready for 100 campaign. Forget his rhetoric: Trump cannot stop this momentum for clean energy and climate action that is being driven by citizen activism in states and communities across the country.