Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy, Vice Chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee, On President Trump’s Executive Order Rolling Back Obama-Era Clean Air, Clean Water And Clean Energy Gains

These cynical and patently misleading actions are damaging in many ways to our economy and to the public’s health.  This is part of the ‘know-nothing’ anti-science agenda that President Trump and many Republicans in Congress continue to pursue, undermining sound policy decisions and setting back America’s technological leadership and American jobs in the emerging clean energy economy.  This will cost us precious time and initiative in establishing our world lead in these new clean energy technologies.

Today our planet faces pressing new challenges with climate change, and it is a travesty that our president either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.  The science is clear.  The Earth is warming, and 2016 was the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.  In fact, 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.  The President’s actions only make us further dependent on the dirty fossil fuels of the past, when we should be accelerating steps to make us truly energy independent and to create a 21st Century energy economy with the clean energy jobs of the future.  China and other nations see this clearly and are acting.  Over the last decade America has been moving steadily in creating these new clean energy jobs.  It is senseless to squander these gains.

The President is moving to reverse crucial rules and guidelines that were based on solid science and carefully crafted by the Obama administration, on mining, drilling and operations that burn coal or gas.  Climate change is not a hoax; the real hoax is the President’s cruel and misleading claim that his executive orders will bring back all of the coal jobs that have disappeared as natural gas prices have plummeted and clean energy alternatives have taken off.  Even the heads of the country’s largest coal companies know that is not going to happen. Those jobs have been lost to technology and efficiency, not to climate and clean air regulations.  America should not be taken back to a time when it was hard to breathe, when our cities were filled with haze and smog, and when our rivers were so polluted they caught fire. This executive order makes us dependent on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels when we ought to be leading the world in supporting clean new technologies that grow our economy and create and support new jobs.

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