by Tait Becker ’19
The deep-rooted partisan issue of the scientific validity of climate change has yet again surfaced as New England continues to experience an unusually mild February. Record high temperatures throughout the region have begun to raise questions as to whether or not climate change is beginning to impact the United States in new ways
Several environmental activist groups have begun to express concerns about the future of the energy and environmental programs in the U.S. under the Trump administration. President Trump’s recent selection of Mike Catanzaro as top energy aid, paired with his selection of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has raised red flags for many involved in this sector.
Pruitt, who was confirmed by the Senate with a 52 to 46 vote, has led or been part of 14 lawsuits aimed at blocking EPA regulations and Barack Obama’s climate change initiatives. Pruitt has also been under scrutiny for his close ties with oil and gas industries. Trump has been both praised and under fire for his plan to scale back and reduce the power of the EPA.
In the absence of a national policy regarding this issue, many local and state leaders have started to speak out in favor of developing a national plan to grapple with this issue. The past few months have indicated that the scientific projection which shows that global warming will continue to increase might be accurate. This information comes in as states in the midwest continue to struggle with droughts, reducing the availability of water and other energy-related resources.
The Trump administration’s eagerness to expand development and infrastructure in the fossil fuels sector seems to be a top priority. The recent approval of access to the Dakota Pipeline, which was granted by the Army, will begin to be implemented. This may end the longtime standoff between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other activists protesting the pipeline.
Aside from the alleged disruption of ancient burial grounds, several environmental activists, politicians, and other officials have claimed that the project would create immense environmental harm to the surrounding areas. The 1,170 mile long pipe would cross four states, carrying crude oil from North Dakota into the Midwest.
President Trump has spoken at great lengths about the importance of developing a more effective infrastructure that would support the acceleration of domestic energy production.
This new fight for the prohibition of this construction has sparked a more generalized push for the Trump administration to address the broader issue of climate change. Despite Trump’s previous claims that he is committed to improving infrastructure projects, it still remains unclear if these projects will be energy-related.