The Trump administration is moving to roll back car efficiency and pollution standards as part of an overall energy strategy that aims to prop up coal, oil, and gas conglomerates while stifling the clean energy industry.
New polling shows Americans — Republicans and Democrats — overwhelmingly want the exact opposite.
Gallup’s annual Environment survey released this week found 73 percent of adults favor developing clean energy sources like solar and wind while only 21 percent say they want more oil, gas, and coal. Even more, this preference extended to Republicans who favored alternative energy source by 10 points.
Americans also value saving energy and do not see the need for increased fossil fuel production. By a nearly two-to-one margin, Gallup’s survey showed Americans favor conservation of existing energy supplies over more drilling, mining, and fracking.
Despite the dirty energy diatribe we so often hear from the Trump administration, the poll’s findings aren’t surprising. For years, polls have consistently shown that Americans want more clean energy — and want their elected officials to make it happen.
And for good reason.
In addition to helping our environment, clean energy and clean transportation help our economy. More than 3 million Americans now work in clean energy — solar, wind, clean vehicle manufacturing, energy efficiency — in every state in the country. That’s more than two and a half times as many workers employed in dangerous coal mines and oil patches.
Driving this new economic reality home even further is the fact that the fastest-growing jobs over the next 10 years are projected to be solar installers and wind turbine technicians, while coal and oil jobs continue declining.
But these benefits go far beyond jobs. Better fuel efficiency standards for cars means more money for Americans that would have otherwise gone to the gas pump. Better energy standards for buildings, appliances, and lighting means lower electricity and heating bills for homeowners and small businesses.
Yet, like on so many other issues, the Trump administration continues to ignore facts and what Americans really want. Instead, the president and his cabinet continue to steadily march our country backward, without a whiff of concern for the long-term impacts on our economy, environment, or our future.
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Never mind that the standards would save consumers billions in fuel costs and help address pollution — Pruitt’s decision directly threatens an estimated 288,600 Americans who work in at least 48 states designing and building technology that makes vehicles more efficient.
That’s not what Americans want.
In the most recent Consumers Union poll, more than 70 percent of Americans said they agree that the U.S. government should continue to increase fuel efficiency standards and enforce them. Even some carmakers — notably Ford — have stated they don’t want or need changes to current fuel economy standards that aim for vehicles to achieve 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
Instead of continuing to seek out ways to keep our country shackled to fossil fuels and dependent on dirtier cars that cost more money to fuel, the Trump administration should start listening to what Americans want.
It should support policies that will help clean energy and vehicle efficiency continue to grow.
Not do the opposite.
Bob Keefe is executive director of E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), a national, nonpartisan group of business owners, investors and other professionals who advocate for policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. www.e2.org