It’s been a long, strange week in climate change news.
President Donald Trump sent early signals in the first week of his Administration that indicate how the White House might view climate change. One of his first action items: scrubbing references to global warming and climate change from the White House website and replacing previous language with an energy plan focused on increasing development of fossil fuels, opening up public lands and parks to drilling and mining, and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil in order to lower the cost of energy.
Related, after a rogue employee at one of the national parks posted to Twitter a series of tweets on climate change, staff at the major resources agencies (the Environmental Protection Agency, Interior and Agriculture) were told to not share on social media or with the public and press information pertaining to scientific studies or findings, which unleashed a huge underground Twitter campaign and sparked organization around a “science march” on Washington.
In a meeting with business leaders, Trump promised to cut regulations “massively” but assured leaders he’s “a very big person when it comes to the environment.”
“I’ve won awards on the environment but some of that stuff makes it impossible to get anything built,” he said. In a press conference the same day, press secretary Sean Spicer, in response to a question on climate change, said Trump is “going to meet with his team and figure out what policies are best for the environment.”
Shifting to the good news, the state of Louisiana, which has over 7,000 miles of coastline and sits on the frontline of climate change, could lose up to 4000 square miles [read full article here] in the next 50 years if it doesn’t take action to respond and adapt to climate change. The state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has devised a 50-year, $50 billion climate response plan, which includes measures such as raising homes to protect them against flooding, relocation of communities in areas that can’t be protected, and wetlands protection measures. Wetlands serve as “speed bumps” for storms, helping decrease intensity and impact.
While the state has identified some revenue streams for the plan, federal resources will still be necessary. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA-6) has advocated for his coastal district and the state as a whole. While he admits, “There’s a lot of taint or stink that goes along with, ‘Hey, we need to make investments to adapt to climate change,'” his approach has been to emphasize that making investments now can help stave off federal investments in disaster response later.
“Many members of Congress believe we can’t afford to come in and make these investments in adaptation in these coastal areas,” Graves says. “I would argue that we can’t afford not to.”
Graves was recently named chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency. “The stupidity of spending billions of dollars after disasters instead of millions on prevention beforehand has to end,” he said in a statement after receiving the post.
While D.C. feels very much in flux, good working is happening locally in communities and states. If you know of an interesting project or effort led by the ecoright, please share the details with us. No effort is too small.