Free-Market Forces Leading Transition To Alternative Energy
Climate change made the agenda during the final presidential debate. Trump talked about his pipe dream of clean air and clean water, despite his policies to gut protections for our dwindling precious resources. Meanwhile, Biden made one of the boldest political statements in presidential history with the announcement of a plan to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels by 2050.
Over four years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled major climate policies and rolled back several rules governing clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals. As most nations are divesting from fossil fuels and investing in alternative energy and more efficient infrastructures, Trump has talked about the virtues of clean coal and pipelines to the past that threaten our vital air and water supplies. Such policies are leading our children to slaughter.
Trump promotes the virtues of capitalism and innovation, but he is stifling both by continuing to subsidize the oil industry with more than $20 billion every year. The oil industry was a massive beneficiary of the multi-trillion dollar coronavirus relief package in April 2020. We don’t know the extent of the bailout, because Trump also removed all transparency regarding the use of those funds. Prior to that infusion, most oil companies were already on life support in the wake of the coronavirus shutdowns. In other words, free-market capitalism is nowhere in sight when it comes to the oil industry. The good old boy system is keeping fraud, favoritism and fascism alive and well in this destructive industry (which has been covering up the science of climate change for decades). Suffice it to say that the free market is already leading the transition away from fossil fuels, but we have to create a level playing field by eliminating the multi-billion-dollar handout from government every year. Biden is right. Our government must stop subsidizing inefficiency, pollution, death and climate change. Too big to fail has no place in a free-market world. It’s a greedy way of saying “too big to compete.”
If we eliminate these subsidies, the oil industry will not collapse.
There will always be a need for some of these petroleum products–even after 2050. Meanwhile, the shift to alternative energy is on track now. Companies such as Tesla, Nio, Nikola and even General Motors are banking on electric vehicles in the face of soaring consumer demand. The supply of fossil fuels is dwindling, while the demand for fossil fuels is changing. It’s time for government to get out of the way. It’s a matter of national security and its a return to free-market capitalism.
Although Trump frequently speaks of his desire for the United States to have “crystal-clean water,” he has called his predecessor’s signature clean-water regulation “horrible,” “destructive” and “one of the worst examples of federal” overreach. He has streamlined permitting and production around numerous pipelines. He has stripped regulations that safeguard clean air and clean water. He has stood firmly behind fracking, even when done in close proximity to homes and schools. Even when it puts endangered species at greater risk. The Trump administration removed environmental protections for streams, wetlands and groundwater to appease farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules restricted growth and profits.
President Trump vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s “Waters of the United States” regulation, which had frustrated rural landowners. His new policy is the latest step in a push to repeal or weaken nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling and endangered species protections.
Most policy reforms have been implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and from automobiles; removed protections from more than half the nation’s wetlands; and withdrawn the legal justification for restricting mercury emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, the Interior Department is opening up more public land for oil and gas leasing by limiting wildlife protections and weakening environmental requirements for developers.
According to the Trump campaign, “America’s energy revolution has produced affordable, reliable energy for consumers along with stable, high-paying jobs for small businesses—all while dropping carbon emissions to their lowest level in 25 years. American energy policy must balance environmental protection with economic growth in order to encourage innovation, discovery, and prosperity.” Trump says that Biden’s energy plan will destroy America. He is certainly an expert on the subject, but his path is fatally flawed.
America and the world cannot afford to be dinosaurs. We can’t keep building an unsustainable world on fossil fuels, greed and favoritism.
Meanwhile, the tone from the Biden campaign is much different. As Biden sees it, climate change poses an existential threat to our environment, our health, our communities, our national security, and our economic wellbeing. It also damages our communities with storms that wreak havoc on our towns and cities and our homes and schools. It puts our national security at risk by leading to regional instability that will require U.S military-supported relief activities and could make areas more vulnerable to terrorist activities. It will continue to spur wildfires, droughts, floods and evacuations. It’s an obvious threat to our food and water supplies.
Biden is promoting a Clean Energy Revolution to address the climate emergency. Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges. Biden knows that our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected. He knows that human health is dependent on clean and safe air, water and food supplies.
If we can harness all of our energy and talents, and unmatchable American innovation, we can turn this threat into an opportunity to revitalize the U.S. energy sector and boost growth economy-wide. We can create new industries that reinvigorate our manufacturing and create high-quality, middle-class jobs in cities and towns across the United States. We can lead America to become the world’s clean energy superpower. We can export our clean-energy technology across the globe and create high-quality, middle-class jobs here at home. Achieving a clean energy economy is an obligation and an opportunity. We should fully adopt a clean energy future, not just for all of us today, but for our children and grandchildren, so their tomorrow is healthier, safer, and more just.
As president, Biden promises to lead the world to address the climate emergency and lead through the power of example, by ensuring the U.S. achieves a clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050.
In addition, Biden will immediately make smart infrastructure investments to rebuild the nation and to ensure that our buildings, water, transportation, and energy infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change. He will lead an effort to get every major country to ramp up the ambition of their domestic climate targets. He will make sure those commitments are transparent and enforceable, and stop countries from cheating by using America’s economic leverage and power of example. He will fully integrate climate change into our foreign policy and national security strategies, as well as our approach to trade.
Vulnerable communities are disproportionately impacted by the climate emergency and pollution. The Biden Administration will take action against fossil fuel companies and other polluters who put profit over people and knowingly harm our environment and poison our communities’ air, land, and water, or conceal information regarding potential environmental and health risks.
Unfortunately, neither candidate has talked about the importance of forest conservation in the climate debate. Fossil fuels are a major part of the conversation, but deforestation is a vital part of the equation. Forests help absorb carbon dioxide, which is one of the major greenhouse gasses. Forests around the globe are burning at the speed of light, which releases the carbon and dims our future. Some of these fires are acts of nature, while most are not. Corporations are burning vast tracts of tropical rainforest every day to create plantations for cattle, palm oil and soybeans. These plantations have a fragile existence that might last 20 years at most. Meanwhile, these rainforests, and the endangered species within, are gone forever. Again, governments in other nations are subsidizing the destruction. Free-market forces, including the truth and transparency, are nowhere in sight. Fraud, favoritism and fascism are alive and well in 2020. It’s dimming the future for everyone.
The next U.S. President can’t solve all of these problems alone. The question is whether the next leader will truly be part of the problem or part of the solution on all fronts.
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