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President shows disregard to environment with executive actions on climate change

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We all knew this was coming since the November election. We hoped that reason would triumph. We even had a modicum of relief when the President, in his address to Congress, said that he wants “clean air and clean water.”

But, a few weeks ago, when the president proposed a draconian 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget and the elimination of key climate change programs across the federal government, we knew what was around the corner.

{mosads}In the end, it was just as bad as any of us imagined.

Tuesday, the president signed an executive order to overturn the Clean Power Plan, undo the moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands, eliminate federal agencies factoring in the impact of climate change in their decision making,  and opening up even more public lands like our National Wildlife Refuges to fossil fuel production.

The President of the United States thinks he has tricked America into believing he is concerned about energy independence. Instead, what this executive action has shown, is his utter disregard for our environment and the environment that will be left to future generations.

And this is not just Donald Trump’s view. He is the denier-in-chief. And he has chosen his subordinates well. The president and his top officials have called climate change “a hoax,” a “waste of your money,” and have called for continued debate, review, and analysis on the subject when asked about carbon dioxide’s role in causing climate change.

This administration has chosen willful ignorance in order to avoid science-based action that would build safe, healthy communities in which to raise our families and grow our economy.

This is short-sighted because the longer we wait to act to mitigate the impacts of climate change, the more expensive it will be to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and the less of a chance we will have to keep the world’s warming below a safe threshold.

America has the opportunity to lead the world in making our environment safe and healthy now and into the future.  Instead, the president’s actions slow down the progress we’ve been making and put U.S. leadership on climate in question. It only kicks the climate change can further down the road, forcing future generations to suffer and deal with what we have wrought.

With a stroke of his pen, President Trump has pushed the collective head of the U.S. government further into the sand on climate change. 

Adding insult to injury, the executive order kills all the tools that help us to clean up carbon pollution—making climate change worse–all while stifling programs that help us prepare for the impacts of climate change we are already seeing all too often. And his order also muzzles government defense scientists who plan for the impacts of climate change, which our military planners have long identified as a national security threat.

I would encourage the president to consider an alternative approach and to live up to our moral responsibility to care for our common home, our families, and our neighbors around the world. 

Instead of rejecting climate change policies, we should be enacting policies that encourage the use of local, renewable energy sources.

We should be investing in research and development to bring about the next generation of clean and efficient energy systems.  

We should fund assistance programs that help communities here and abroad adapt to the inevitable changes caused by the damage that has already been done to the climate. 

And we should exercise the authority of the EPA to write rules that limit emissions from our power sector and push automakers to build cleaner, more efficient cars.

These steps represent true American leadership and leadership like this will save us money and create jobs. But if we delay, the costs will be higher to us and to our children and grandchildren.

By acting to reduce carbon pollution, we will create more opportunity today and a better future for all of us.

I doubt the President will heed my advice, so we must prepare for a long and tough struggle. This will be fought by the cities, by the states, in courts and at the grassroots level. Many of us remember the days of smog alerts and acid rain. We will not allow our country to go back. We are moving forward.

Lowenthal represents California’s 47th District. He is a member of the Resources Committee.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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