Environmental Policy in the United States
Environmental policy is described as, “an organization’s objectives regarding the environment supported by documented intentions and philosophy publicly stated (Black’s Law Dictionary 2012).” In the United States this means that legislation is written and passed by Congress. The President can also influence policy by expressing their opinion. In order for bills to be passed both the House of Representatives and Senate must pass it on to the President. The President has 10 days that can do one of three things: veto the bill, sign the bill and it will become law, or just table it and it dies. If the President vetoes the bill, then it can go back to congress where it can be overridden with a two-thirds vote. This process can take an extended amount of time and cause delays in the process. The current administration is Republican and is in favor of lowering standards on environment protections.
The Republican Party has been largely described as being lenient towards the environmental regulations and “forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide (Grand Old Party 2016).” Republicans also want to save and create as many jobs even if that hurts endangered species and the ecosystem. The Democratic Party is seen as the party for environmental protections. The Democratic Party wants “50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade (Democrat National Committee 2016)” to lower costs on monthly bills and provide for a cleaner earth. They also want to help protect national, state, and local parks by establishing an American Parks Trust Fund. This fund will help with rehabilitating existing parks and better improve the parks (Democrat National Committee 2016.)”
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I. Climate change: An issue
The problem with our current climate is that the Earth is being exposed to an increase of greenhouse gases due to a rise in emissions from factories and burning of fossil fuels. According to a report from the UN we have 12 years to reduce the emissions released into the air or it will have adverse effects on the climate which will then affect the environment. It is reported that the global temperature must not rise 1.5°C above the average temperature instead of 2.0°C. The annual temperature was set lower because the sea level will not rise “From 1901 to 2010, the global average sea level rose by 19 cm (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2018).” With the, “limiting (of) global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2018).” With the reduction of temperature there will be fewer irreversible effects on the environment. Such as the, “coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2.0°C… by 2100 (the) global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C… the likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2018).” This lowering of annual temperature will only help and benefit the environment.
II. Current policy on the environment
The current environmental policy with Trump as President is that his administration is not strict on enforcement and has ened or lowered current regulations. The current administration is wanting to overturn all Obama era regulations and bills. Examples of this are that President Trump and his administration are trying to “Overturn the rules set by the EPA that would require oil and gas companies to monitor the release of methane gases from wells, propose rollbacks on the endangered species act. President Trump also wants the EPA to loosen the regulations on air pollutants (Greshko, Parker, Clark Howard, Stone, & Borunda 2018)” and has pulled out of the Paris climate agreement making the United States the only nation not a part of the agreement. He has stated that, ‘We’re getting out… we will start to renegotiate, and we’ll see if there’s a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine (Hansler 2017.)” As you can see from the previous stated examples, the current administration is not focused on helping or trying to mitigate the effects of climate change.
III. The solution
My proposed solution to help save the environment and mitigate the effects of climate
change is to offer government subsidies or tax cuts to people, businesses, and developers who are researching renewable energy. These would be for those who make the switch from nonrenewable to renewable energy and would aid them in the costs of the switch and encourage others to follow. I believe that all government entities need to be powered by renewable energy because of the vast variety of these will impact several sectors in the United States. All government funded buildings, vehicles, and housing need to all be powered by renewable energy.
Along with the above-mentioned solutions, the EPA needs to place strict regulations on the coal, oil, gas industry, and the large factories. This will allow the EPA to set lower caps on how much pollution is being discharged from those polluters. These caps will help lower the emissions released into the air and have fewer toxic pollutants that are released in to the air that have harmful effects on human health and the environment.
The EPA also needs to enforce the punishments given to the corporations who do break the laws. The “Center for Environmental Integrity reported that EPA civil penalties had dropped 60 percent in Trump’s first six months, compared with the first six months of presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton (Palmer 2018.)” The EPA has not enforced the regulations as they should. “In its first nine months, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Donald Trump has brought one-third fewer environmental enforcements than Obama’s EPA during the same period, and one-quarter fewer enforcement actions than George W. Bush’s EPA… The agency has also imposed fewer civil penalties on polluters (Palmer 2018.)”
With the new heavy regulation and the stricter enforcement of said regulations this would force people to be innovative and look into other forms of renewable energy and the ways of getting and being able to use said energy. With the new research, there would be better ways of harnessing the energy from water, the sun, and wind making the process smoother and having to do less frequent repairs or replacements. Also, the testing should include the longevity of the structures and how to extend the life of the structures. There would also be more competition in the market because the oil, gas, and coal industry would be so heavily regulated that people will resort to using other forms of energy.
This new-found research would provide jobs to people to set the structures up whether that be solar panels, wind turbines, or water turbines. These workers would monitor the structures and make repairs when needed. In 2015 American solar power added “new jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, while saving customers tens of millions of dollars per year on energy bills (Sekaric 2016.)” Just in 2015 there were 208,859 solar workers and solar employment has grown by approximately 20 percent every year since 2013 (Sekaric 2016.)
This trend shows that the renewable energy sector is growing in the work force. Renewable energy isn’t only good for the environment it is also good for the economy.
A recent analysis by the investment bank Lazard compared the unsubsidized cost of commercial solar and wind systems with energy storage systems to that of conventional fossil fuel generation systems. The analysis found that, even with storage, commercial renewable energy systems are cheaper than coal and comparable to natural gas (Alexander 2018.)
The United States needs to make the switch to renewable energy and make it a priority sooner rather than later. Climate change is only getting worse and the effects will last forever. The United States is a major global power that has influence with the rest of the world. This influence will help other countries use renewable energy. Switching to renewable energy will help with mitigating the effects of climate change, lower the annual rise in sea level, create job opportunities, and provide research to help other countries make the switch. “Even if climate change were not such an urgent issue, the shift to renewable energy would make sense on purely economic grounds alone (Alexander 2018.)” In the end, the effects climate change will worsen until we stop it.