Richard Greene

Trump’s EPA makes way for economic opportunity

President Donald Trump holds up the signed Energy Independence Executive Order Tuesday at EPA headquarters.
President Donald Trump holds up the signed Energy Independence Executive Order Tuesday at EPA headquarters. AP

Since electricity generated in North Texas doesn’t come from either mining or burning coal, the president’s actions last Tuesday have virtually no impact on either the local economy or the environment of our communities.

While there are two or three coal-burning power plants in East Texas that reportedly send some windy emissions our way, the effect of Trump’s actions is still de minimis here.

In case you missed it, with a stroke of his pen President Trump ended the war on coal that was launched by President Obama with the stroke of his pen.

Both presidents delivered on campaign promises that helped them get elected.

Obama’s directives resulted in about half the states and the coal industry filing lawsuits to stop him from implementing his orders. The Clean Power Plan is on hold at the Supreme Court.

Now, many states and major environmental organizations will take Trump’s plans to court in an effort to stop him from implementing his orders.

In my years of serving inside the Environmental Protection Agency, I experienced how the work of that department of the federal government, perhaps more than any other, is constantly integrated with all three branches.

The entire history of the agency since its creation in 1970 has been like that.

In spite of the controversy that seems to attend the agency’s work, people in our country are living longer, healthier lives as a result of leading the world in producing a cleaner environment.

Congress passes environmental laws, the executive branch writes rules and regulations to carry out the will of Congress, and in the recurring process, the judicial branch sorts out the challenges to the authority of the other two.

All that has been sent into action again following a remarkable ceremony Tuesday at EPA headquarters.

Undoing Obama-era climate change regulations, the president was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, coal miners and members of Congress from coal-producing states.

The response was entirely predictable.

Texas Republicans and many of their colleagues in both houses of Congress and in state legislatures across the country celebrated the president’s regulatory relief and job-saving initiatives.

Democrats provided provocative quotes for the media, heaping scorn on Trump’s action, characterizing it as a colossal mistake or, as Obama’s former EPA administrator did with palpable hyperbole, accusing Trump of wanting to travel back to when smokestacks damaged our health and polluted our air.

The Washington Post included in its online headline a declaration that EPA staffers feel “it’s a dismantling of their careers.”

I’ve talked to some and haven’t encountered any who believe their careers have been dismantled.

Environmental organizations immediately seized on the news to raise money for themselves.

Their websites featured smokestacks among images of the president and Pruitt, power plants in smoggy haze and ugly coal mining operations.

The National Resources Defense Council site was typical.

It called for support to “block Trump and Pruitt from dismantling the EPA” and provided visitors only one clickable button — the one entitled “donate” inside a bright red box.

At about the same time the EPA ceremony was taking place, I received an alarming email from the Environmental Defense Fund directing me to the $50 monthly “gift” page to help them build “lasting political power.”

Earth Justice declared a “potentially devastating blow to the earth’s climate” and suggested sending them $100 every month to their rapid response fund.

It seems we have a parallel between Obama’s unintended boost of the firearms industry with his positions on gun control and Trump’s apparent enrichment of the environmental lobby with his position on coal.

Meanwhile, the continuing effort to balance economic opportunity with environmental quality continues pretty much as it always has.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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