In a continuation of numerous policies designed to take us back to the old model of fossil fuel-based energy production, Trump now wants to gut federal funding for research on renewable energy sources. He wants a 72% cut in that funding for 2019.
The Trump administration is poised to ask Congress for deep budget cuts to the Energy Department’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, slashing them by 72 percent overall in fiscal 2019, according to draft budget documents obtained by The Washington Post…
The document underscores the administration’s continued focus on the exploitation of fossil fuel resources — or as Trump put it in his State of the Union address, “beautiful clean coal” — over newer renewable technologies seen as a central solution to the problem of climate change.
The Energy Department had asked the White House for more modest spending reductions for the renewable and efficiency programs, but people familiar with the process, who asked for anonymity to share unfinished budget information, said that the Office of Management and Budget insisted on the deeper cuts.
Of course they did, because Mick Mulvaney and Trump both still live in the 19th century. Forget global warming. Even if it was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to destroy the American economy, as Trump moronically has said, there are a thousand other reasons why we should be doing everything we can to reduce our use of fossil fuels as much as possible and use cleaner, renewable energy sources to generate as much of our energy as we can.
Even without global warming, the use of coal and oil to generate energy is massively polluting, putting an enormous amount of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (like mercury) into the air that has a profound impact on public health. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that the public health costs of that pollution is nearly $200 billion a year.
Then there’s the extraction of fossil fuels, which in the case of coal – yes even that “beautiful clean coal” that exists only in Donald Trump’s head — involves strip mining and mountaintop removal and results in an enormous amount of damage to rivers and streams. Add in the damage to our ground and surface waters from fracking and oil extraction (and the sheer amount of clean water that must be used to get oil and natural gas out of the ground) and you have hundreds of billions of dollars more in costs — costs that are not included in the price of energy because the public ends up largely paying for it through environmental cleanup programs and the increased cost of health care, plus lost productivity and other negative externalities.
The economic costs — counted and uncounted, priced in or not — of using fossil fuels to generate energy are vast. The damage to our health is incalculable. The way it distorts our foreign policy to continue to rely on fuel sources that lie largely under unstable countries with authoritarian governments is enormous. Even if global warming is the greatest hoax ever, we should be reducing our reliance on fossil fuels to the lowest amount we possibly can. That requires boosting the use of renewable energy sources to the greatest extent possible and moving to an entirely new energy economy.
But not, Trump is still stuck in the coal era. He might as well be trying to bring back the horse and buggy industry. And there’s only one reason why: The oil, coal and gas industries have enormous amounts of money to spend on lobbying and they give it mostly to Republicans. This is why, despite massive disapproval of Trump and polls that show people overwhelmingly want the Democrats to take control of Congress this fall, the Republican National Committee has far more money than the Democratic National Committee does (that and the tax cut bill, which was designed solely to empty the pockets of big corporations and the wealthy to preserve their favored deductions).
Those good Christian Republicans have a slightly different version of Jesus’ golden rule. There version is “those who have the gold get to rule.”