Monday, December 12, 2016

Environmental Opportunities During the Time of Trump

We all know that, for the next four years, we won't have a "green" government. Far from it. For EPA Mr. Trump has chosen Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier and someone who is deep in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. Trump has chosen Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers whose overall League of Conservation Voters scorecard is 4% and in 2015 it was 0% for the year. She is all in favor of selling off public land to the gas and oil people. It's better to say that she's selling out our natural heritage. That great Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt, is spinning in his grave. 

Bottom line: don't expect the federal government to champion the environment in the next few years. In fact, expect it to do exactly the opposite including supporting the nasty, dirty coal industry.

There are two things that we can do as "greens". We can moan and groan and whine which will do us no good. True, there will be protests. There will also be court challenges and it will be worthwhile to financially support those groups that are best able to take on the federal government in court. Still, that's just spectator environmentalism. What can each of us do to make a difference to help our earth and to hold off the hordes of anti-environmentalists?

The next four years gives each of us the opportunity to examine our own lifestyles and see what changes that we can make personally that are more environmentally friendly and ecologically and socially just. 

We live in a market economy. Period. When we buy things, when we consume, that means that we give a green light to suppliers. That's how it works. If I'm in the business to find, distribute or sell natural gas and people are demanding it, I'm going to find, distribute and sell natural gas. El Paso Electric Company is looking for a hike in the fuel fee - a hike that is justified because the cost of natural gas has gone up. By law, when it goes down, they have to decrease that fee. Want to know how to decrease the cost of natural gas: demand more and produce more. How many of us want to live in a world without electricity? If that sounds enticing, try Aleppo.

My point is this, as a consumer of electricity and, therefore, of natural gas, I contribute to the market that leads to global warming. If I buy jewelry, I contribute to the pollution of metals mining. Heck, if I type another word on this computer and eat some more bandwidth with this blog or an email, I am contributing to the pollution caused by mining the rare earths needed to make electronic parts for my computer, cell phone and smart TV.

Obviously we need to find more sustainable sources of energy - or use more. We just need to know what moves the market and that may mean paying more for an extended period of time in order to "show" the market that we are demanding something else. How many of us will either buy solar panels in the coming year or sign-up for El Paso Electric's Community Solar Program? I just signed up to get their updates.

The opportunity that we have now is to examine our lifestyles and patterns of consumption and to make changes. Big government is not going to do it for us. Also, in a free market economy the biggest vote we have is the one we make with our spending. Sure, we can protest and sue and bang drums - and we probably should do some of that with Pruitt and Rodgers in charge. We can also ask ourselves how we can change habits and purchases. So, for the next four years, let's say the serenity prayer a thousand times daily and then deal with those changes that are within our power to make. Changes that, if stuck to, can change the market freely.


  1. And now Mr. Trump has picked Rex Tillerson (CEO of Exxon Mobil) as secretary of state.

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