New Trump Environment Plan Guarantees A Race To The Bottom


New EPA Guidelines On Burning Coal For Power Are Both Diabolical And Ingenious


Both the New York Times and the Washington Post report that tomorrow during a rally in West Virginia, the President is expected to announce he is almost completely rolling back the Obama era Clean Power Plan. The lynchpin to his new proposal: allowing states, rather than the federal government, to set and administer their own carbon emission standards.

Why is this so significant beyond the obvious negative impact to the environment and contribution to global warming?

1) Most importantly, putting regulation into the hands of states automatically pits those states against each other to see who can unravel their anti-pollution regulations the quickest in order to better attract new investment. So expect standards to be slashed real hard, real fast. Faster even than the federal government could make it happen by deregulating equally across state lines.

2) The importance of this concept cannot be overstated. Because if it works with coal-fired plants, it’ll likely be explored as an option for other highly-polluting industries that are also clamoring for their own ways to more freely pollute.

3) It services the Conservative mantra of making big government smaller. And that ensures a steady flow of support from big business to help keep Trump and his henchmen in office. Remember the supposed “feud” between Trump and the Koch brothers? Forget about it! Especially if such  a policy is extended to regulation of chemical plants, for instance. Because it would be the best gift people like Charles Koch could ever hope for.

4) Once federal pollution standards are ceded to the states, it’s much, much harder to reimpose them later. In fact there’s a good example of that happening right now with fuel efficiency standards on automobiles: for years states like California have been able to set their own rules different from what the federal government required. Now the Trump administration is trying to reverse that, in order to force less efficient cars back onto the roads there and elsewhere. But California’s prepared for a fight, and the issue is likely to be tangled up in courts for months if not years.

In that case, interestingly, the Trump administration is trying to do exactly the opposite of what it’s about to do with coal fired plants: take the ability to regulate away from states and consolidate it within the federal government.

Meaning there’s really no philosophical consistency to what the Trump administration is doing, as demonstrated by the fact that they don’t truly want to give the states more power across the board to make their own decisions, if there’s a possibility those states might do something against what Trump wants. So the overall strategy does not really involve making the federal government smaller, it involves giving a boost to big business at the expense of the environment. As well as Trump’s very blatant attempt to demonstrate he’s rewarding states that voted for him, and punishing states that didn’t.

We would only remind you once again, that the reason President Nixon established the EPA in the first place is that state and local governments and private industries did an absolutely disastrous job of setting their own anti-pollution standards, culminating with events like the Cuyahoga River in Ohio catching on fire. Be prepared for more flaming rivers.