By Liv Valinsky
With wildfires on the West Coast, hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, droughts in the Great Plains, and record temperatures throughout the world, climate change is a pressing issue and one to be informed on before the presidential election. Donald Trump and Joe Biden have both expressed their opinions and developed plans for many environmental issues and it is important to analyze both to make an educated decision for our future.
During his presidency, Trump has reversed many of the American attempts and plans to help reduce the effects of human actions on the climate, by pulling out of the Paris Agreement and allowing harmful projects, such as drilling. He has repeatedly expressed his lack of belief in climate change and the scientists who support the idea. Biden, in addition to supporting the Green New Deal, has proposed a $5 trillion climate plan to reduce the carbon pollution the United States releases to net-zero emissions by 2050, meaning the amount of carbon produced is equal to the amount taken out of the atmosphere.
Trump’s administration considers water quality and droughts to be "the largest and most immediate environmental and public health issues affecting the world right now," according to Andrew Wheeler, Chief of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, in January 2020, he removed federal protections regarding pollution from rivers, streams, and other bodies of water, supporting the farmers and developers who claimed the regulations were too controlling. Now, he claims, they can focus on providing food and shelter to the people of America, instead of wasting time and money to determine if the water sources on their land are under the control of the federal government. He announced that the government would no longer “micromanage” the farms of America. Biden has promised to ensure safe drinking water and to prevent pollution by taking action against fossil fuel companies and other major contributors. While in the Senate, he also co-sponsored an act that prohibited dumping sewage and industrial waste in the ocean, called the Ocean-Dumping Ban Act of 1988.
In 2018, the Trump administration planned to lift a ban on offshore drilling for about 90% of coastal areas, put in place by Obama, but the ban could not be lifted. In early September of 2020, Trump expanded the ban on drilling sites of the Atlantic Ocean, prohibiting drilling in more areas than before. Biden supports the banning of oil and gas permits on federal land and off-shore drilling, just as he did when serving as former President Obama’s Vice President.
During Trump’s 2016 campaign, he promised to undo Obama’s environmental regulations. Under Trump, the EPA began to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which imposed restrictions on power plants, reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. This imposed the burden of paying for it on mostly low- and middle-income Americans. The EPA’s new plan is the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which still aims to reduce emissions, but at a lesser rate. They revoked California’s ability to set its own emissions standards, along with lowering fuel economy goals. Biden has proposed a $1.7 trillion investment in clean energy, rapidly reducing the United States’ reliance on fossil fuels.
Trump removed the United States from the Paris Agreement in 2017, claiming that it has done little to slow emissions from other countries, while unfairly targeting the U.S. America’s emissions of fossil fuels have dropped 10% during 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration. Occurring both during Trump’s presidency and COVID-19, this is the largest drop since the 2008 recession. The EPA’s air trends report also shows that air pollution continues to decline, during his presidency. Now, 80% of low-income counties in the United States meet the clean air standards. This is compared to 43% in 2008. Biden pledges to lead an effort to get other countries to recognize the threat of climate change and act against it, and also to recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement.
Gunasekara, Mandy. “Mandy Gunasekara: US Air Is Cleanest on Record – Trump Improving Our Environment and Economy.” Fox News, 23 Aug. 2019, www.foxnews.com/opinion/mandy-gunasekara-us-air-is-cleanest-on-record-trump-improving-our-environment-and-economy.
Jacobo, Julia. “Trump vs. Biden on the Issues: Climate Change and the Environment.” ABC News, 29 Sept. 2020, abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-biden-issues-climate-change-environment/story?id=73151337.