Trump signs order sweeping away Obama’s clean power plan to address climate change – economic development or environmental protection? It’s a question.

by Astro on November 10, 2017 - 7:16pm

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on March 29th, 2017 to terminate the Obama-era climate change regulations which restrain oil drilling and mining activities. The previous decree during the Obama-era is to lower carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants. Thus, helping the US accomplish its commitments to a common goal reached by approximately 200 countries in Paris in 2015. Because the total carbon emission is finite, increasing carbon emissions on oil drilling and mining activities limit carbon emissions in other fields such as in policy and infrastructure. Trump feels that drilling and mining industries will revive through this order, but environmentalists think that it is a reckless decision. Trump’s administration considers that more jobs will be created by reducing environmental regulations. However, some environmental protection groups and organizations argue that clean energy can also have the same functions on providing job opportunities. According to a Department of Energy study, “the number of jobs in the U.S. wind power industry rose 32 percent last year while solar power jobs rose by 25 percent”. Environment groups and organizations also think this order runs counter to current energy usage and technologies trend which is toward cleaner renewable energy. It diverges from the law and scientific reality because most of the scientists agree that the use of traditional fuels is the main driven factor for climate change.

From my point of view, this case is a good example of conflict in natural resource management. Cognitive and value conflicts are perfectly shown in this order. In cognitive conflict, Trump is a businessman and his background and education probably determine that his worldview mainly focuses on commercial benefits. Climate change might be placed on the secondary status in his mind. For the value conflict, there should a trade-off between the environment and jobs. Trump holds a wrong opinion that reducing carbon emissions on drilling and mining will result in fewer job opportunities. Nevertheless, according to the Department of Energy study, there is not too much difference on job opportunities between using traditional energy and using clean energy such as wind power and solar power. Political uncertainty also contributes to this case. The election cycle in political uncertainty is the factor that causes the abandon of a clean power plan. If a president has education and background in the environment or related fields, the clean power plan may continue many years in the US. The termination of the clean power plan may also bring a chain reaction that other countries may abandon similar plans, which will put more pressure on environment.  In conclusion, the termination of the clean power plan is not a wise decision. I suggest that the government should give more rights to the public on making decisions about the environment. The public should take more participation on decision making. When the co-management method is used in this case, the conflicts can be mitigated.