Many find Trump to be a comedic figure. Yet, as President, society must hold him to account, due to his power and influence. What activism should we engage in?
With an approval rating of 41 percent, 50 of the 533 positions filled in the executive branch, twisted efforts to institute a travel ban, a forked tongue global agenda, and a Russian investigation scandal lurking around, it is reasonable to say one aspect of Trump’s presidency that is a success, is that it’s definitely entertaining.
If his first 100 days is any indication of how the next 3 years and ‘x’ amount of days goes, we are in for a Gatling performance for sure. Trump’s showmanship has to rely exclusively on posturing because of the sheer scale of deregulation he proposes, in addition to a concurrent massive tax overhaul. It is bound to create some incongruent solutions that will wind up hurting the folks that need work and risk staying loyal to his cohort of industry leaders. Energy and environment are inextricably linked, because when one is mismanaged there is an immediate impact on the other.
The intense tax reform initiative announced by the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is being lauded understandably by the energy industry and financial communities. But this is something Trump cannot feasibly screw up—helping people dodge taxes and wiggle through loopholes. Although there has been substantial and meaningful bi-partisan debate on whether or not Trump’s long awaited tax plan features more tax cuts on a scale comparable to those passed during the Reagan Administration, one thing it’s definitely not doing is helping the poor or steward sustainable eco-systems. Of course, when folks aren’t running out to buy the new iPhone, maybe they won’t need to stay on government assistance like the suggestion made by Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Thus, all is fair in love and war because impoverished communities like Flint, Michigan were forced to drink water which was being poisoned by the lead that leaked from rusty pipes for decades. But when Mnuchin spoke to George Stephanopoulos from ABC News, he declined to guarantee that middle-class families wouldn’t pay more under the proposal. This tax payment structure coupled with a removal of environmental protections will incentivize coal companies to return to Appalachia while permitting coal companies to dump mining waste into streams and waterways. So, the Trump Administration wants to remain consistent with its motto dependent upon giving jobs back to the American people. And yes it could do that but in all likelihood, might not because a transition of this scale is far too daunting.
One way that it is easy to see how just one rollback can have unintended consequences is when Trump installed Scott Pruitt as chair of the EPA. This was done in order to support Congressional decisions underway, like getting rid of Obama’s stream protection rule that has spawned a profitable stream reclamation industry. In fact, Robindale Energy Services & Associated Companies have actually benefited from the punishment restrictions on coal. They have carved out a niche, no pun intended, in the southern West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio Valley landscape by repairing the damage caused by old mines and extraction. And it might actually prevent further damage if coal returns. But Robindale et al, are not without criticism, because many environmentalists claim that they do rush jobs that are sloppy or that they contribute to drought. Nevertheless, the companies under the Robindale umbrella specialize in coal mining and material handling and accounted for more than $500 million in sales last year. That may not seem like a huge loss in jobs, but consider the deal Trump struck with United Technologies’ Carrier Indiana manufacturing plant. That deal only promised to secure 800 jobs, but will ultimately lose more. The alternative energy sector of the economy might be a safer bet. Grouped with increasing solar, wind or geothermal manufacturing incentives, isn’t it a smarter plan to continue with a gradual agenda that emphasizes balanced regulation as opposed to repealing all of it? Regulations can encourage the emergence of cottage industries that are ideally situated to uphold and support them. And if this entrepreneurial approach to alternative energy production was truly embraced, jobs could be generated from solely positive externalities – not from toxic waste cleanup.
Trump’s vision will simply not congeal because it is threatening the drastic upheaval of institutions of environmental protection. And it will cost way too much in order to support the bureaucracy of deregulation; the literal cost to cutting costs. So, in the coming years, it might be wise to move toward calm, reasonable conversations about how to vote to keep Trump in office, or remove him depending on your political proclivities. Speculation of what might happen never gets anything done, so ignore the intentions of policy makers. Attend the local town halls, and continue to pester your state representatives. Get organized with friends, march peacefully, and vote. The trick to keeping Trump is to inflate what will be only small accomplishments, and to defeat him requires only to convince him that what he achieved really wasn’t as great as he thought it was.