Saturday, May 6, 2017

Trump Bright Spots: Energy, Environmental Policies (So Far)

The New Jersey Star-Ledger blasted President Trump’s policies lifting recent Obama Administration regulations of the coal industry (What is New Jersey's best response to Trump's coal fixation?)

There are many answers to the environmental crisis. But it takes an all-hands mentality to reduce emissions and adopt policies that are less likely to poison our air and water, or damage a 130-mile coastline that is vulnerable to rising sea levels.

It’s important to understand that the “emissions” the Star-Ledger refers to is “carbon pollution.” Actual pollution, as identified by the EPA, has been dramatically reduced:

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Burning of fossil fuels can be dirty, of course. And they are, in places that don’t use the latest de-polluting methods. But those are located outside the United States. Industrial plants subject to U.S.’s [mostly] rational anti-pollution laws are relatively clean, and getting cleaner.

The Star-Ledger, echoing standard anti-fossil fuel tactics, frames the issue within the assumption that climate change is intrinsically bad, but only to the extent that human activity may be a cause. This, they claim, is an “environmental crisis.” What about the environmental crisis humans faced through most of history—that is, before the era of fossil fuels? Climate catastrophists never provide that context.  

I left these comments:

Trump’s energy and environmental policies are bright spots. Never mind the hysteria that this will “poison our air and water,” or somehow make our coastline “vulnerable to rising sea levels.” Thanks to state-of-the-art cleansing technologies, actual pollution from burning fossil fuels, like mercury and certain oxides, has been so much reduced over the past several decades that oil, natgas, and even coal can now be considered clean. That’s why the Left has latched on to the ridiculous notion that carbon dioxide, a gas without which all life on Earth would disappear, is a “pollutant.” Never mind that increasing CO2 levels have major beneficial effects. Sea levels have been rising for 20,000 years, yet there is this irrational hysteria because man may have contributed a couple of inches to that 400 foot rise.

Reliable, economical, clean, mass-scale energy is vital to human well-being and safety from climate and other natural dangers. The solar and wind welfare industries cannot provide it, which is why every unit of so-called “renewable” energy must be backed up by reliables, especially fossil fuels, but also nuclear and hydro.

Real pollution should be reduced as much as economically and technologically feasable. But there is a point of diminishing returns. Many Obama policies, motivated by ideological opposition to fossil fuels, have burdened reliable energy producers with regulations that have minimal returns in regard to cleaner air but impose maximum damage economically. Kudos to Trump for his pro-reliable energy policies and his rejection of the climate catastrophe scenario. Obama’s policies may have been good for “the environment.” But Trump’s energy policies, from what I can see so far, are good for human flourishing.

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