How We Can fight back against Trump’s Anti-EPA

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency is a slap in the face of every American who cares about the environment in this country. Pruitt has repeatedly sued the EPA for doing its job. He is a climate change denialist (which means he is either corrupt or not very bright or both). He doesn’t really think the environment needs any protection and is perfectly happy to gut it on behalf of his corporate clients.

As a species, we only have a window of 10 or 15 years to get our act together re: climate change in order to avoid catastrophe, and Pruitt will eat up at least 4 of those precious years. Pruitt is literally a dodo.

With regard to fighting global warming, the American public is at best now on its own. At worse, the federal government will change its laws so as to encourage activities that make the environment dirtier, more dangerous and hotter.

We’re on our own.

But 320 million Americans can fight back against Pruitt.

Some 25% of buildings in the US are not insulated. If you have any influence over such an un-insulated building, push to have insulation put in. The US would save enormously on carbon emissions if this were done.

If we can take public transportation to and from work and the market that is the best option. Or carpool with colleagues.

Where that is impossible, and where we can afford it, we should buy an electric car or plug-in hybrid as our next vehicle. In the first half of 2016 consumers only bought 64,000 electric vehicles. That is an average of 128,000 electric vehicles per year. It isn’t nearly enough. These are great cars. I don’t understand the resistance to them. Get one, just to protest Pruitt.

The next generation of EVs is dramatically superior to its predecessors. The Tesla 3 and the Chevy Bolt both will cost around $29,0000 after the Federal tax break (get it while you can). And they get around 200 miles on a charge. That should take care of 99% of your driving needs. (Where it doesn’t cover them, rent a car occasionally.) These cars have plenty of pick-up for merging onto highway traffic.

There are now a million EV’s on the roads throughout the world. Their technology has improved to the point where they meet the goal of keeping temperatures to a rise of no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. (Some climate scientists are afraid if temperatures go up more than that, it will disrupt the world’s weather system in dramatic ways that will interfere with the functioning of civilization). Note that there are 1.2 billion combustion engine cars on the road, so a million EVs is a drop in the bucket. But 120 million would be 10 percent. Pick up the pace, folks, if you want to combat Trumpism.

Where you own your own home (over half of Americans do), and where you can afford to do so, and where it makes sense, put solar panels on your roof. If you will be in your home for 10 years, you will make money this way. You’ll make money even faster if you combine having the solar panels with having an electric car. The US has an installed solar capacity of 31.6 gigawatts, which can power 6.2 million American households. (That is out of 124 million American households; i.e. the equivalent of 5% now have solar panels).

Lobby your electric utility to use more green energy. Where you are given the opportunity to do so, choose green energy for the energy mix at your home.

Use LED compact fluorescent lights. Get an energy audit of your home. Reduce consumption of red meat. Plant trees or donate to have the Nature Conservancy do it.

If we really want to fight Trump, we may have to make these changes without any tax break incentives. We might even have to pay for the privilege. But fighting Trump isn’t easy or cheap. On the other hand if we don’t fight him, our environment will suck after a while, and our grandchildren will suffer, very badly.

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26 Responses

  1. My day job takes to the hardware department of America’s largest retailer, in one of the most diverse neighborhoods of the metropolitan West Coast.

    Some people love CFL’s, fine. A lot of us hate them, a high failure in the first 6 months, the whole mercury/enviro deal, and price. It must have the early “aughts” when I was writing letters to the NY State Attorney General urging an investigation of false advertising by GE on the claims of 7 to 9 years life.

    I am pushing LEDS, which are coming down in price. They do have disadvantages too, lower-watt prices are coming down but apparently to get lumen-equivalents of old incandescents over 75 watts, there must be a lot more manufacturing costs because the bright ones are not coming down in price.

    Also some customers have told about failures in short times. Blame the general conditions in Chinese factories.

    About LED’s, I tell people “it’s the same technology as transistors, and even in the ’50’s transistors could last for 20 years.” If we get into it, I’ll talk about my friend in Hawaii who has several houses wired up to run either 110 or 12 volts (which you get from wind or solar), all with LED’s.

  2. Instead of using compact fluorescent bulbs, which GE, for one, is phasing out, use LED light bulbs. Their price is falling rapidly, they last a very long time, have good color and no warm up time required, unlike CFL’s.

  3. My wife and I installed solar panels 4 years ago and it’s been great. Also a huge help since we lease a Leaf – and yes, that’s also been great. But I’m thoroughly pessimistic about our future. The greed and stupidity of Trump’s Cabinet picks – especially to head the EPA – signal what’s in store. The pigs who lobby on behalf of big oil and coal should be thrilled. They’re in store for a windfall. Pollution? Global warming? More destruction of the habitat and species reduction? Who the fu** cares. Apres moi, le deluge.

    My only hope is that folks organize and do whatever they can to slow it down until the mid-year elections. We need to take back at least one branch of the government – preferably the Senate so as to block horrid Supreme Court picks. But we have tons of work ahead. The people have been snookered badly and we – as well as the rest of the globe – will pay a heavy price for a thoroughly bad choice.

  4. All your recommendations are good and how about:
    Turn the thermostat up a little during the summer and down a little during the winter.
    Purchasing battery backup systems rather than CO2 spewing generators.
    Purchasing electric lawn mowers and trimmers and blowers rather than CO2 spewing gas powered versions of same.
    A day of civil rest every so often to show our displeasure with the new administrations policies. A day of civil rest could include the following:
    No driving, no shopping, no TV, no social media, no texting.
    January 20, 2017 might be a good civil rest day.

    • That’s heavy, Travis. I looked up “day of civil rest,” and it’s not at Wikipedia. Many citations, though, relating Constantine made Sunday a civil day of rest. Our situation’s more dire, so maybe ours could end up more significant.

      This tack Juan Cole suggests is very much like what Wendell Berry said some time or other…that we’d have to make up for gov’s shortfall…shortfall in the sense of missing the mark. IMO the spirit of the thing would have to be different than the back-to-the-landers. No escape…we’d have to attempt to keep up with what the prof also has to say about the rest of the world. He’s not alone. So many have helped us understand things via the net. So weird that all the information yielded up what we have now.

  5. Thank you. I think all that’s left to us right now is to develop some tools for survival, sort of a Whole Earth Catalog for 2016. Ideas like this are a good start.

  6. Every time I ask a potential roof solar installer how much savings I would experience just from the shade cast by the panels. Every time I get a blank stare. I’ve done the math and the numbers are good. Amazing to me that something like this is not a part of the discussion.

    • Even if they had the stats the exact value will vary greatly.
      How long is your cooling season? How good is your attic insulation? How efficient is your AC? How dark is your roof?

      I did move where my panels were put over the installers recommendation. I wanted them over a chunk of roof wityh poor insulation that I don’t hav access to.

    • If you google “solar power calculator” there are a number of online tools that calculate your savings. Google itself has one. To verify the calculators, I suggest using 3 or 4 and comparing results.

  7. Juan, not compact fluorescent bulbs: LEDs. CFs have mercury in them, and cannot be recycled. They use two or three times as much electricity as do LEDs. LED prices have come way down, and they can last for 25 years!!

  8. Later on, we will need to start replacing our gas furnaces, with electric heat pump versions. Similarly with water heaters. This will eliminate a huge amount of natural gas consumption. Maybe even enough to make fracking uneconomical.

  9. But 320 million Americans can fight back against Pruitt.

    But, of those 320 million Americans how many will fight back?

    The Liberty Tree Foundation – link to libertytreefoundation.org – appears to be prepared to fight in the political arena that may align with the environmental movement. Something to keep an eye on.

    • It’s been said that a State cannot function if 15% of the population refuse to cooperate. You don’t want to stop it from functioning, you just want to stop it from doing so much damage. 10% should be enough.

  10. Asking people to purchase electric cars, get solar panels, etc. is all well and good. But, much more needs to be done, and the government is by far the best way to organize doing it–things like installing more mass transit, high speed rail, more electrical charging stations, phasing out coal plants, and so on, need government leadership to be implemented on the scale needed, or in case of large projects like high speed rail, at all.

    Well, as Joe Hill said, don’t mourn, organize. If we are to overcome Trump and the climate denialists we need a social movement of citizens who will DEMAND that the necessary changes be made, for the sake of us, and our children and grandchildren. The water protectors at Standing Rock have shown us how to start–we need a broad coalition of people willing to do what is necessary, including put their bodies on the line.

    We cannot depend on the electoral system to get the job done–that system is very broken indeed and needs major repairs, including abolishing the electoral college, ending gerrymandering and instituting transparent vote counting. (That last means paper ballots, hand counted in public.) These repairs to the electoral system will be the result of a real social movement, not the cause–just look at how difficult it is right now just to get a simple recount of a presidential election in one state. We do not currently have a functioning democracy.

    • It would be nice to have the government on our side. It won’t be. We have to do it ourselves. Coal plants can also be closed by peaceful protest and embarrassing the coal companies, as I said.

      • I’m not too worried about the coal plants. All Trump can do is delay their retirement. New coal can’t compete against Natural-gas, solar or wind.
        There are a lot of other ways Trump will harm climate however. Increased support for fracking. Potential withdrawal of tax credits for EVs and solar, that would hurt
        the market for such far more than voluntary calls to purchase EVs. Gutting of climate and clean-energy research…

      • It would probably take Americans four years to get schooled in economics enough to the point where they could agree on anything relevant to planning. By then maybe public servants would wanna get serious. I’ve struggled and struggled with the concepts, and I think I’d recommend these writers (like I say, just in case gov’s in a mood to get serious): Weisbrot, Hudson, Rasmus, Palley, Keen, Yves Smith, and Ellen Brown. Does anybody out there know what I’m talking about?

  11. I think the term “climate change denier” should be changed to “climate change ignorer”.

    In my view, the deniers who are public figures are smart enough, and alert enough to grasp the reality of global warming and its downstream consequences. The denial is rooted in political, business and economic interests that are threatened by actions to mitigate the affects of the warming.

    If we started to call them ignorers instead of deniers, some might get squeamish enough to change their public views.

  12. We have evolving internet tools at hand to replace corporations for some important services.
    We already don’t need giant entertainment/”news” corporations. We can entertain each other for free to an extent online. Artists now can obtain financial freedom to pursue their vision via Patreon.
    However, a more daring vision of the future would be the replacement of investor-driven consumerism with consumer-investors who communicate directly with the entrepreneur about what they want to exist. I helped crowdfund the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 by ordering the blu-ray season set a year in advance. The more we were willing to commit to, the more episodes they were able to make. After the near-disappearance of high-quality stereo equipment made in the US below $1000, we have had a budding revival that also often involves crowdfunding. This is not heavy industry, but small-volume craftsmanship. Another company that requires close consultation with potential buyers is Local Motors, which proposes to build entire car bodies using 3D printing technology, in tiny factories located in many cities.

    What all these things do, along with generating electricity at home, is break up the concentrations of capital that have deformed our social institutions with their absurd influence.

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