I’ve listened as the Trump Administration asserts that rolling back environmental regulations and weakening the EPA will unburden industries and bring prosperity to communities. It won’t. Instead, it will usher in an era of regulation by litigation. We’re not entering an epoch of unregulated industry activities, as many fear. Instead, industries are headed for a period of greater uncertainty and risk, when their ability to operate and make reliable financial forecasts is threatened. Environmental groups feeling compelled to prevent what many see as disastrous actions on pollution, climate change, and energy policy are mobilizing. Communities will be caught in the middle.
Americans by and large don’t like the notion of “regulation” but they do value their environment and the health of their children. Over 70 percent of Americans want the U.S. government to act on climate change. Recent polls found that 70 percent of voters support strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants, 76 percent believe carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant, and 56 percent oppose withdrawing from the Paris Treaty*. I’ve worked with communities and industries that have no time to engage in climate-change rhetoric because they are too busy trying to find solutions to its tragic impacts.
As Americans have demonstrated time and again when their core values are threatened, they act. They take their complaints to the courts.
The U.S. has a robust judicial system. It relies on evidence. That includes scientific evidence. The Daubert Standard, for instance, ensures the quality of science and scientific experts allowed in courtroom evidence. Even if politicians and agency leaders deny scientific evidence, judges cannot. Peer review trumps political ideology. Scientific results demonstrating environmental damage, threats to human health, and climate-change consequences can determine the outcome of legal battles. The fate of natural resources, industries and communities will rest heavily on decisions made in courtrooms around the country. Expect environmental groups to use the court system effectively.
Americans don’t like the notion of ‘regulation’ but they do value their environment and the health of their children.
Unfortunately, we’ve been here before. The bitter forestry…