Problems with Trump's Pivot to Environmental Deregulation by Luke Perry
President Trump regrouped this week by unilaterally dismantling Obama’s environmental protections designed to help America reach its goals in the Paris Climate Accord, an unprecedented global agreement by most of the countries in the world to collectively mitigate global climate change.
Republicans and Democrats are remarkably divided in their perceptions of government activity and climate change, the environment, and public health. Republicans are much more critical and dismissive of related science than Democrats. In turn, environmental deregulation will be well received by elements of Trump’s base, particularly the fossil fuel industry.
Trump has called climate change “a total hoax” and “pseudoscience,” yet when his personal business interests were at stake, petitioned the Irish government to allow his golf club to construct a massive sea side wall to protect against the effects of global warming. This makes the president’s antiquated talking points sound like a tobacco lobbyist defying the connection between smoking and cancer.
Trump is genuinely interested in job growth, and portrays himself as a champion of coal, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 70,000 people currently work in the industry (less than one half of one percent of the adult population). These folks predominately live in rural, conservative America, which speaks to the politics at play.
Miners deserve to be treated with dignity and retrained so their transferable skills can be put to work in the healthier and safer renewable energy sector. The problem is that most of these jobs are in liberal states, like California, that prioritized transforming themselves into a green economy.
The president continues to try to make good on his campaign promises and please his base, but would be well served to stop jumping from one particularly politically charged issue to another. For instance, Trump could flip the script by pressing Democrats to support an infrastructure plan. Bipartisan legislation, plus the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, might spark a needed turnaround for Trump, whose poll numbers nationally, among Republicans, and among independents, continue to fall.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLuke Perry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.