POLITICS

6 Ways The GOP's Environmental Platform Will Damage The Earth

The Republican party casts doubt on climate change, rejects the Paris Agreement and calls coal "clean."

21/07/2016 9:20 PM AEST | Updated July 22, 2016 01:47
Robyn Beck via Getty Images
The GOP's climate change platform certainly wouldn't make America's environment great. Environmentalists warn the policies would "imperil clean air and clean water for all Americans.”

The world’s scientists overwhelmingly agree: our planet is facing an environmental crisis of staggering proportions. The Earth is warming at an alarming rate due to human activity. Many scientists warn the planet will suffer extreme, and possibly irreparable, damage in a few decades without a swift, globally coordinated effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet a conspicuously different picture emerges if you read the Republican Party’s platform, released Monday at its national convention in Cleveland. Climate change is not a priority and may not even be real science; the environment is fine ― getting better everyday, in fact! And we need fossil fuels. Much more of them.

“If this extremist platform were ever actually implemented, it would imperil clean air and clean water for all Americans,” said Khalid Pitts, political director of the environmental group Sierra Club, in response to the platform. “This double-dealing platform both praises NASA while simultaneously rejecting the scientific consensus on the climate crisis, which NASA has affirmed time and time again. The Republican platform has gone beyond partisan politics and extended into cartoonish absurdity. Any voter who cares about our climate has to help make sure that Donald Trump never becomes president, and that this platform never gets near a piece of legislation.”

The Republican platform, released a day before Trump’s official nomination as the GOP presidential candidate, promises to overhaul many climate and environmental policies. It plans to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency as we know it and embrace what it refers to as “clean” coal.

The GOP plans would “reverse decades of of U.S. energy and climate policy,” The Washington Post wrote Tuesday

New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait called the platform “crazy.”

“It’s important to keep in mind that … the Republican platform represents the consensus view of the party apparatus rather than the nominee,”Chait wrote. “It’s concerning that the Republican Party has been overtaken by a dangerous maniac. But climate science is one of the issues where dangerous maniacs have been in control before Trump even came along.” 

Here are some of the ideas, themes and plans in the Republican platform:

  • The environment is fine, and those who say otherwise are 'extremists.'
    Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
    “The central fact of any sensible environmental policy is that, year by year, the environment is improving,” the platform reads. “Our air and waterways are much healthier than they were a few decades ago. As a nation, we have drastically reduced pollution, mainstreamed recycling, educated the public, and avoided ecological degradation. Even if no additional controls are added, air pollution will continue to decline for the next several decades due to technological turnover of aging equipment. These successes become a challenge for Democratic Party environmental extremists, who must reach farther and demand more to sustain the illusion of an environmental crisis. That is why they routinely ignore costs, exaggerate benefits, and advocate the breaching of constitutional boundaries by federal agencies to impose environmental regulation.”

    While it is true that some environmental concerns, like air quality and water pollution, have seen improvements in the U.S. in recent years, challenges remain.

    More than half of the U.S. population lives with unhealthful levels of air pollution, according to an April American Lung Association report. It puts them "at risk for premature death and other serious health effects like lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.” Water pollution is also a concern in some areas

    Climate change continues to have profound impacts on the country, including triggering extreme weather events and disruptions to agricultural production.
  • Climate change is not that important. It's not even proven science.
    Harold Cunningham/Getty Images
    “Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue,” the platform reads. “This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it.”

    The platform also expresses skepticism about the theory of human-caused global warming, questioning the potential “bias” of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the international body that most climate scientists accept as the leading authority on climate change.

    “Information concerning a changing climate, especially projections into the long-range future, must be based on dispassionate analysis of hard data. We will enforce that standard throughout the executive branch, among civil servants and presidential appointees alike. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution. Its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy. We will evaluate its recommendations accordingly,” the platform states.
  • Bye bye, EPA -- and its Clean Power Plan.
    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
    The platform calls for converting the EPA into an “independent bipartisan commission.”

    “We propose to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states,” it reads.

    By doing this, the federal government would no longer be able to study the effects of pollution or establish safe standards, the news outlet Grist reports. “In a particularly Orwellian touch, the Republicans promise that a kneecapped EPA would adhere to ‘structural safeguards against politicized science.’ That actually means safeguards against scientific findings they don't like,” Grist notes. 

    The platform also calls for the abolishment of the Clean Power Plan, the EPA’s program to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

    It’s “the centerpiece of the president’s war on coal,” the platform states. “We will do away with it altogether.”
  • Speaking of coal, did you know it’s 'clean?'
    Associated Press
    “The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource. Those who mine it and their families should be protected from the Democratic Party’s radical anticoal agenda,” the platform states.
  • Other fossil fuels are great too.
    Mike Segar/Reuters
    The GOP platform vows to finish building the Keystone XL pipeline and “others” like it “as part of our commitment to North American energy security.””

    It also promises to get rid of federal fracking regulations and carbon tax.

    “We oppose any carbon tax,” the platform reads. “It would increase energy prices across the board, hitting hardest at the families who are already struggling to pay their bills in the Democrats’ no-growth economy.”
  • Paris Agreement? No thanks.
    Pascal Rossignol/Reuters
    “We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement which represent only the personal commitments of their signatories,” the platform reads, referring to the 1992 and 2015 international agreements mandating global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. 

    The platform also calls for “an immediate halt to U.S. funding for the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change,” an international treaty aimed at finding global solutions to fight climate change.

    “We firmly believe environmental problems are best solved by giving incentives for human ingenuity and the development of new technologies, not through top-down, command-and-control regulations that stifle economic growth and cost thousands of jobs,” the document reads.

Several environmental groups condemned the GOP platform’s stance on green issues this week. Food and Water Watch said the platform would “literally sink” the Earth.

“Through its coal-friendly goals and climate change-denying rhetoric, the platform declares war on the planet,” the group wrote. “If it became policy, the platform would accelerate global warming and expedite climate chaos, causing untold devastation to the planet and its people.”

Read the entire Republican Party platform here.

Watch what it’s like to be a protester at the RNC in 360.

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