Tax credits have helped the wind and solar energy play on an even playing field with other industries like fossil fuels that have been receiving billings in government subsidies and tax credits for decades. Although the wind and solar tax credits will be phased out over the next few years, Republicans tried to kill those credits several years early in the recent tax bill. Implementing tax credits and then taking them away causes uncertainty for entire industries and their investors. Instead, we need to be providing stable, predictable tax credits for new clean technologies like batteries that store wind and solar power.
For years the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been packed with former oil and gas executives who continue to rubber stamp pipeline projects throughout Appalachia. Until we can reform the board and its membership, the construction of new pipeline projects needs to be stopped. Natural gas leaks can ignite and explode causing injury and death. From 2010 through 2017, pipeline incidents took nearly 100 lives, injured almost 500 people, and forced the evacuation of thousands. Even small natural gas leaks can go on for months or years without being repaired, which significantly contributes to climate change. No wonder no one wants these pipelines on their land! Additionally, people should not have their property rights forcibly taken away to site these dangerous pipelines on their land for corporate profit.
In 1990, Congress passed a law requiring a tax on each barrel of oil to fund the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which used to help fund cleanups after oil spills. This tax expired at the end of 2017. We need to put the tax on oil back in place and we need to create a new trust to fund remediation when natural gas pipelines leak or when construction causes environmental damage. The companies that are getting rich off of pipelines should also bear the burden of paying for accidents.
A rider to the 2017 Republican tax bill opened ANWR up for drilling. Drilling in ANWR will displace polar bears, caribou, and other endangered wildlife. The environmental damage will last far longer than the actual drilling activities. The National Academies of Science predicts that once oil and gas companies drill in ANWR, they are unlikely to ever remove the infrastructure because of the high cost of doing so, causing long-lasting damage to the environment. There are better ways to reduce our dependence on foreign oil than destroying our country’s wildlife refuges and national parks. We need to invest in new, cleaner technology rather than causing further damage to our environment.
Keeping the standards agreed to by the Obama administration and the auto industry could cut carbon dioxide emissions by 6 billion tons and save 12 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of vehicles that comply with those new standards. Automakers agreed to the new standards under the Obama administration, why are they now saying those standards are too burdensome? Cars with higher miles-per-gallon give us cleaner air and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Climate change is real. The harmful effects ofpollutants in our air and water are real. Yet references to climate change have ben disappearing from government websites ever since Trump took office. Climate change brings extreme weather that impacts our health, energy, and agriculture. It also weakens our national security. A recent Pentagon study shows that weather linked to climate change threatens nearly half of all US military sites worldwide. We need to stop debating whether or not climate change is real and address the problem head on rather than waiting until it is too late.
Plenty of studies have shown that a border wall between the United States and Mexico will have very little impact on reducing illegal immigration. What it will do is damage wildlife habitats and disrupt animal migration. Right now, US Customs and Border Protection is planning to build a portion of the wall through the Santa Ana refuge along the Rio Grande. This refuge is home to bobcats, mountain lions, ocelots, and many other animals. Inhibiting the movement of these animals could make it difficult for them to find food, water, and mates. A border wall does not solve our immigration issues, but it will take a devastating toll on our environment.
As Oklahoma attorney general, Scott Pruitt sued the EPA repeatedly over the EPA’s efforts to regulate mercury, smog, and other pollution, yet somehow, he is now the head of the agency he clearly hates. Since being appointed to lead the EPA, Pruitt has worked to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations. He has also engaged in questionable behavior. He received a sweetheart deal on a D.C. rental owned by a healthcare lobbyist whose husband has lobbied the EPA. He spent tax-payer money to fly via private plane and military jet when he travels. Of course, we cannot forget the $43,000 phone booth he purchased with taxpayer money. The person charged with leading the EPA should be someone who takes environmental protections as well as his or her ethical duties seriously.