By Lorenzo Tuason | UC Riverside
The results of the 2016 presidential election have caused nothing but eruptions of outrage among dissatisfied voters, condoning of heinous crimes against minorities, and an uncovering of the vile issues plaguing the States underneath a state of stagnation. The election of Donald Trump has caused such an uproar throughout the nation that we may experience radical changes soon. This may be the necessary spark that will help cultivate a much stronger union in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, this is all future talk. Let us delve into the present.
In light of the recent appointment of president-elect Trump, we must take into account the conditions that we now face under his executive administration and act accordingly. Human rights advocates have been spreading their support in the battle against social injustices occurring around the nation. Since Trump’s appointment, the prevalence of these events is quickly increasing as more harm and challenges are being inflicted towards minorities. The number of people who resist the rising oppression is also increasing in correlation to the frequency of these same events. Overall, the need for societal repairs is rapidly becoming more apparent as the country makes its social problems more distinct. As a strong proponent of environmental justice, I, too, believe in the need for environmental restoration and conservation, as challenges will be inevitably imposed by Donald Trump, the antithesis of Mother Nature.
The Trump administration will further degrade the conditions of our environment because of its stance on climate change. It is quite baffling that our president-elect continually believes that climate change is a mere hoax. While his words won’t harm the environment, it is the purpose behind these same words that will. To showcase his disbelief of climate change, Trump appointed Myron Ebell as the head of the EPA transition team. Myron Ebell is a man who was branded as a “climate criminal” during the 2015 Paris climate summit because of his denial of climate change and refusal to accept scientific evidence pointing to adverse environmental impacts. Ebell’s administration of the EPA will eventually decelerate the agency’s environmental sustainability progress as he circulates his dull environmental concerns within the agency’s culture.
Additionally, Trump has also indicated his intention to dismantle Obama’s environmental policies. Executive Order 13693 seeks to cut the federal greenhouse gas emissions by 40% over the next decade beginning in 2015. Once fully established in the White House, it’s plausible that Trump will discontinue the executive order and counter our attempts to have cleaner sources of air and energy. The country might even experience a bigger setback when Trump “pull[s] the United States out of the agreements reached in the Paris Accord,” according to Jennifer Guenther, an Environmental Law professor at UCR. The Paris Accord was the same event that branded Ebell as a climate criminal. The agreement that was primarily decided in this assembly was to aim for the global mitigation of adverse impacts of climate change, which includes lowering greenhouse gas emissions. By pulling out of the Paris Accords in accordance with the dismantlement of Obama’s federal policies, the United States will look like a cold and heartless environmental antagonist.
As the Trump administration slowly becomes established in the government, the environment also slowly becomes more victimized by the negation of policies and regulations that are conservative in its conditions. Due to Trump’s erratic behavior during the coverage of the presidential election, it remains uncertain as to what he plans on doing next. Guenther stated that “[Trump] does seem to be headed toward the expansion of business and the possible expense of the environment. This puts a higher burden on states to ensure that the environment is protected within their boundaries and utilize the existing federal laws in support of those goals.”
Donald Trump may have a heavy influence at the federal level, but the individual states also have a certain autonomy that enables them to nullify preemption as it did with the Clean Air Act, which allows the states to control their own air quality standards.
In similar fashion, Victoria Ciudad-Real, a UCR student, expressed her concerns stating that “California, being the liberal pro-environment state that we are, will be able to resist any changes or at least try our best to continue regulation.”
Her thoughts conveniently align with Jessica Hardcastle’s statement in her article, Will California Climate Regulations Trump a Weak EPA?, about California being a “leader on climate policy for more than a decade” considering its comprehensive and ambitious climate change regulations.
Even though it is hard to predict what Trump will do in the future, we can maintain our resilience by upholding the integrity of our local governments, such as what California has been modeling for years.
We, as local warriors for justice, can show solidarity and strength as we continue to resist the villains that have ingrained themselves in the center of our republic. We may face disturbances in the force with the impending doom that the Trump administration will bring, but there is also hope that this disruptive behavior will ignite a progressive movement that will better safeguard the water from which we drink, the air from which we breathe, and the soil from which we flourish.
Lorenzo Tuason is a 4th year Marketing major at University of California, Riverside. Outside of academia, he advocates for improving our treatment towards our oceans and works closely with the environmental non-profit organization, Heal the Bay. He spends his free time watching comedy shows or rock climbing. In the future, he hopes to learn how to swim in order to fully embrace his passion for the ocean.