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Demonstrators rally outside the San Francisco office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Jan. 9, 2017. (Photo: Peg Hunter/flickr/cc)

Trump vs. The Planet: Climate in Crosshairs of Executive Pen

Trump already promised actions on day one of his presidency including lifting restrictions on fossil fuel production

Andrea Germanos

Given what is known about his cabinet picks and plans for fossil fuel extraction and executive actions, the former reality TV star who became the 45th President of the United States on Friday appears poised to kick off a "deregulatory agenda" and take actions to fast-track climate catastrophe.

Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, predicts the new administration to continue its shock therapy strategy:

A major strategy has been—and will likely continue to be—to institute radical proposals by overwhelming the public with an avalanche of activity and by attempting to distract us with the president's cult of personality.

And given the corporate cabinet, a climate-denying transition team, and a dearth of debate on appointees, Halpern expects "significant industry influence over the role of science in government decisions."

Such decisions could be moments away, as it appears Trump is ready to make swift use of his executive pen. Bloomberg reports Friday that his

advisers have prepared a short list of energy and environmental policy changes he can take within hours of being sworn in Friday, including steps to limit the role that climate change plays in government decisions.

The list includes nullifying President Barack Obama’s guidelines that federal agencies weigh climate change when approving pipelines, deciding what areas to open for drilling or taking other major actions, two people familiar with Trump’s transition planning say.

Trump also is being counseled to suspend the government’s use of a metric known as the social cost of carbon until it can be reviewed and recalculated, and to rescind a 49-year-old executive order that put the State Department in charge of permitting border-crossing oil pipelines.

Reuters adds:

"He is committed to not just Day 1, but Day 2, Day 3 of enacting an agenda of real change, and I think that you're going to see that in the days and weeks to come," Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said on Thursday, telling reporters to expect activity on Friday, during the weekend and early next week.

Trump himself laid out after Election Day what he'd do on his first day in office, including allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to move forward; lifting restrictions on fossil fuel production; and canceling "billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs."

Echoing those promises, billionaire fracking taycoon Harold Hamm told CNBC Thursday that getting rid of the Obama administration's energy regulations would be a day-one priority, saying, "I think it'll be immediate." He added: "[Overregulation] is hurting everybody."

As the Washington Post wrote, scientists were quick to see the anti-science gauntlet being laid down and quickly mobilized. From its reporting in December:

Petitions and open letters have poured out in the past couple of weeks, including a call by nearly two dozen Nobel laureates that Trump defend “scientific integrity and independence” and a petition by more than 11,000 female scientists demanding that he respect inclusiveness and the scientific process. The efforts underscore how these individuals could be at the front lines of an oncoming political clash.

Also among their efforts was a race to archive government climate data before Jan. 20—a Herculean task Wired delved into on Thursday—and earlier this month outgoing Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a new "scientific integrity policy" to protect at-risk policies, as Common Dreams wrote.

As Michael Slezak wrote Friday at the Guardian, "regardless of what climate deniers (yes, deniers) like Trump may say about the science, the stark reality is that it is happening now."

"We are no longer fighting to stop climate change, but fighting to stop a runaway catastrophe," he added.


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