Donald Trump’s new economic policy plan would be devastating to the climate

It’s a laundry list of climate activists’ worst nightmares.


If you’re a voter who cares about stopping climate change, you really need to read Donald Trump’s newest economic policy plan.

Released Thursday, the plan paints a bleak picture of climate action under a potential Trump presidency. It includes things like completely eliminating the Clean Power Plan, the United States’ most robust attempt at curbing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions from power sources. It would also eliminate the Waters of the United States rule, a rule that would protect millions of Americans from water pollution.

Trump would also slash the EPA’s new standards for ground-level ozone, meant to combat public health issues like asthma. Environmentalists were already disappointed with the stringency of the new standards — it’s hard to imagine they would be pleased with an administration eliminating them entirely.

The plan would also halt any new federal regulations and require an agency-level review of all previous regulations, putting numerous important regulations, like the EPA’s new regulations on methane emissions from new oil and gas operations, or coal ash regulations, in peril.

Beyond eliminating key protections and regulations, Trump’s plan would basically declare open season for fossil fuel companies. His plan calls for “[unleashing] an energy revolution” through supporting coal production and natural gas production via fracking. It also calls for maintaining fossil fuel production on public lands, as well as opening up “vast areas of our offshore energy resources” for drilling. This is the antithesis of the Keep It In The Ground movement supported by climate activists, environmental groups, and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, which calls for the end of new leases for fossil fuels on federal grounds.


Trump’s plan would also “lift unnecessary restrictions on all sources of American energy,” specifically citing restrictions on coal and onshore and offshore oil and gas.

Trump’s desire to open up vasts stores of fossil fuels is completely at odds with the science on human-caused climate change — multiple studies have shown that in order to stave off the worst consequences of global warming, a majority of the world’s fossil fuels will need to remain untapped.

A Trump administration would also completely do away with subsidies for renewable energy technology. “A Trump Administration will support continued research into advanced energy technologies, but we will not be in the business of government picking winners and losers,” the plan reads. “We need to allow the free market and the innovative spirit of the American people to product [sic] the new energy technologies of tomorrow, without undue government interference.”

That’s terrible news for proponents of renewable energy, because subsidies have been crucial in making renewable energy competitive with fossil fuels. In the past few years, the solar Investment Tax Credit has helped fuel incredible growth within the solar industry, while the Production Tax Credit for wind power has helped bolster the wind industry.

The economic policy plan’s disregard for environmental and climate regulations does not come as a surprise, as Trump has long run on a platform of environmental deregulation, especially at the federal level. He has pledged to do away with the EPA entirely if elected; former EPA officials have said that his plans “[threaten] to destroy that legacy of respect for the environment and protection of public health.”


On a global scale, Trump has pledged to remove the United States from the Paris climate agreement, an agreement signed by almost 200 nations in an effort to staunch global climate change. In May, Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, told ThinkProgress that Trump’s views of climate change and energy policy “constitute an existential threat to this planet.”

In response to Trump’s newest policy proposal, the Sierra Club’s political director Khalid Pitts released a statement calling Trump “the worst candidate for our climate and our environment in history.”

“Put simply, Trump’s energy plan is this: he opposes any policy that will tackle the climate crisis or grow our clean energy economy, and he supports any policy that props up the dirty fossil fuel industry,” Pitts said. “Anyone with illusions that he cares about the health of American families just needs to note that a day after he was in Flint for a photo-op, he directly attacked clean water safeguards. American families deserve better than a con-man who cribs his speeches from fossil fuel CEOs.”

UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a statement from the Sierra Club.