As the nation heads to the election in November, voters face a choice with regards to climate change issues. They have the opportunity to choose between regulation and deregulation. The rollbacks and their implications on climate change issues will be a point to consider for many voters who are victims of climate change.
People had often reported that they noticed significant changes in their overall health when they moved close to the coal-fired power plant in Painesville, Ohio. As the plant emits sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that can cause lung problems, many people have reported serious health issues in the vicinity.
This is not just the case with the Painesville plant as several other coal-powered electric utilities emit similar pollutants according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. This was permitted under Trump’s rule, and provisions were made for similar other 200 power plants.
This is just one of the nearly 100 rollbacks regarding environmental issues that the Trump administration has taken in the last four years. They have loosened regulations on various other things ranging from air and water quality to wildlife protection across the nation.
Even though some of the rollbacks face challenges in court, most of them are already in effect, and they continue to threaten environmental protections that have worked hard for many decades. As the country heads for election, voters now have a choice whether to continue with further deregulation or go with regulation.
At this juncture, it is important to understand that if the deregulation continues in the same way for the next few years, it will lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions and it can have a severe impact on climate change.
Joe Biden has something promising in this regard as he has promised a plan that will aim to fast track the nation to complete zero CO2 emissions by 2035 in the electricity sector. A team of researchers at the Clean Energy Futures project had a similar opinion, and they have claimed that it is possible to get to zero emissions within two decades in the electricity sector.
However, Trump’s EPA policy also has some supporters as they claim that the policies of the Obama government only focused on climate change and they did not bother to look into the minute details of the actual working of EPA.
Experts warn that our planet is likely to get 3 degrees warmer when compared to pre-industrial times before 2050. While this does not seem like an obvious threat to most humans, it can wipe out several species from the planet and increase intense heatwaves across the globe. It is well known that CO2 emissions are one of the primary contributing factors for climate change as they trap heat in the atmosphere and cause a lot of adverse changes.
Coal-fired power plants have been emitting CO2 for nearly 100 years, and they have contributed to climate change in a significant way. The EPA under the Trump administration implemented the ACE, Affordable Clean Energy rule that required power plants to operate in an efficient manner.
However, experts point out that making the plants more efficient means that they will emit more CO2 in the long run. This provides incentives to use coal in the long run, and it does not address how to reduce CO2 emissions.
Trump has always been aggressive when it comes to such policies, and he even withdrew the US from the Paris Agreement that aimed to work towards reducing greenhouse gases. The Trump administration said that it put an unfair economic burden on the US.
According to the EPA, CO2 emissions in Michigan is likely to increase by almost 15% in the next decade. Scientists warn that this region is warming faster than the rest of the country and a clean energy model is the need of the hour. When such clean energy models are adopted, it can reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 13.9 million tons, and it can also reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by nearly 10000 tons by 2035.
These changes have affected the communities that live close to the coal-powered units. Many children living in these regions are exposed to lung problems and suffer from asthma and other ailments. Especially black and Latino communities are more exposed as they have less options to move outside of such regions just because of environmental reasons.
The EPA is doing little to reduce CO2 emissions, and the reduction in coal-fired plants is more due to market conditions. In recent years, the lower price of natural gas has prompted many coal-fired plants to shut down, and the EPA cannot take any credit in this regard.
Even though private organizations are working on their own towards renewable energy models, it can nowhere match the efforts of the government in the long run. In this regard, there is some hope for environmentalists that a change in government may improve the situation by some margin as Biden has shown promise in this regard.
Many moves of the Trump administration with regards to environment and climate policies have faced strong opposition from conservative groups and Democrats. As many as 106 lawsuits were filed against the government, and nearly 56 of them were specifically on environmental issues.
Experts believe that if Biden comes to power after the November elections, many of the 56 lawsuits will get power and they can lead to some regulation in the country towards environmental issues.
During the Trump administration, changes were made to the Clean Water Act. Back in 2015, the Obama administration had made changes to the policies that allowed the federal government to regulate wetlands and washes. The EPA has defended such moves and said that even when the waterways are not protected by the federal government, they are still protected by states.
All these factors may be of little importance to the common voters as they have bigger issues like the pandemic and economic slowdown to deal with during the elections. On the other hand, few environmentalists are hoping for some change to come in the near future.