Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump unveiled his “America First” energy plan back in April and it’s pretty much what you’d expect from someone who refers to climate change as a “Chinese hoax.” In short, he plans to undo over 40 years of work and efforts to protect the environment and stop climate change in one fell swoop.
Trump has vowed to back out of an international treaty to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, do away with long-standing environmental regulations and rebuild the country’s dying coal industry. However, what Trump calls a plan to achieve “complete American energy independence,” experts call “idiotic,” “damaging,” and “an embarrassment.”
Here are 10 ways that Trump’s energy plan could pose major global economic, health and climate threats in the years, decades and centuries to come:
It could damage the U.S. economy
Trump’s proclamations about making America completely energy independent have been met with nothing but cheers from his audiences, but what might sound like a safe bet in theory, economists are calling the more volatile option.
Eliminating all foreign oil would be like putting “all of your eggs in one supply basket.” While a natural disaster or political upheaval would be localised and cause minor damage to the global market, it could potentially cripple a closed market and easily lead to a homegrown energy crisis.
Air and water will be dirtier
Trump has made it very clear how he feels about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a government bureau he says he will eliminate almost entirely if he is elected president.
“Environmental Protection, what they do is a disgrace. Every week they come out with new regulations,” Trump stated during a 2015 Fox News interview.
The EPA, an agency that was founded in 1970 by Republican president Richard Nixon, does not in fact come up with their own regulations, but rather enforces those that have been passed by congress, such as the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Studies have shown that since the agency’s creation, the six most common air pollutants in the U.S. have declined by 72%, an achievement that could easily be undone if the agency was dismantled.
Coal power, though not a clean or viable energy option, would be back on top
While on the campaign trail, Trump has been wooing the coal industry by promising to get miners back to work, claiming that unfair EPA regulations and Obama’s “war on coal” have hurt the industry.
However, experts say that the decline of coal has little to do with regulations and everything to do with the rise of natural gas; not only is natural gas far cleaner than coal, it’s also much cheaper to produce. In order for Trump to revive the coal industry, he would have to either raise natural gas prices — which would in turn damage a successful market — or subsidize the coal industry to allow it to compete.
Both options are “very, very unlikely” to even happen, let alone save the industry. Both also seem to go against Trump’s oft-repeated phrase that, “the government should not pick winners and losers.”
Aside from potentially damaging the success of the natural gas industry, a return to coal would have a detrimental impact on the environment, as coal has been found to be the single dirtiest form of fossil fuel energy and currently contributes 39% of all global C02 emissions.