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A vote for Gary Johnson is a vote against the environment

gary-johnsonAmericans under 30 are far more concerned about climate change and limiting carbon emissions than the general population, so it doesn’t make sense that recent polls show close to 20 percent of millennials say they’re planning to vote for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. A vote for Johnson will benefit Donald Trump in some key swing states, making it more likely that he’ll be able to implement his absurd anti-environmental agenda. And when it comes to practical consequences for climate change, there’s simply not a huge difference between Trump and Johnson: Johnson’s utter weakness on the issue is not much better than Trump’s outright denialism.

The Libertarian platform calls for eliminating environmental laws and regulations altogether. No EPA. Nobody to prevent pollution before it happens. Under the Libertarian plan, individuals and communities would seek relief from filthy air or spoiled waterways only through the courts. As Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times about the idea, “Ordinary citizens against teams of high-priced corporate lawyers – what could go wrong?”

The truth is, we’ve already tried this. Before the EPA was established in 1970, America’s failed patchwork of weak state environmental protections led to horrific industrial pollution. In the decades since we first set national standards for clean air, smog-choked cities have seen dramatic improvements in air quality and far fewer Americans are experiencing sickness or premature death caused by dirty air.

The nation’s waters were in terrible shape before the EPA and the Clean Water Act, with many rivers, lakes and streams off-limits to swimming or fishing. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland actually caught fire, its oily mix of pollutants set ablaze by sparks from a passing train. Today the fish have returned and the river has come back to life thanks to common sense limits on pollution.

Trump and the Libertarians claim the U.S. economy needs to be rid of certain environmental regulations in order to grow, but gross domestic product has expanded by 238 percent since 1970, and few companies outside the coal industry would claim that a dirtier, more polluted America will be good for business.

Younger Americans have grown up in a country with cleaner air and safer water than their parents and grandparents enjoyed. They take for granted that big polluters will be kept in check so we can all enjoy our lakes and rivers, let our kids play outside and drink safe water from the tap. That doesn’t happen, though, by itself. It takes leadership. If millennial voters don’t want a future that looks like America’s devastated environmental past, a vote for Johnson or Trump would be a huge mistake.

Only one candidate has pledged to build on our environmental progress, protect our health, expand America’s leading role in fighting climate change and usher in a vibrant clean energy economy, and that’s why the NRDC Action Fund endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Rhea Suh is president of the NRDC Action Fund.

NRDC Action Fund’s Weekly News Summary

Here’s what the NRDC Action Fund has been reading this week:

Donald Trump taking questions at a town hall meeting in Roanoke, Va., in July. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Donald Trump taking questions at a town hall meeting in Roanoke, Va., in July. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

When a crackpot runs for president (The New York Times) — “There are crackpots who believe that the earth is flat, and they don’t deserve to be quoted without explaining that this is an, er, outlying view, and the same goes for a crackpot who has argued that climate change is a Chinese-made hoax.”

Brazil just ratified the Paris climate agreement. Here’s why that’s a really big deal (The Washington Post) —  Brazil is the world’s 7th highest carbon emitter, so its formal ratification will likely spur other nations to follow suit.

GM pledges 100% renewable energy power by 2050 (The Detroit News) — And it’s no small feat: General Motors aims to power its 350 facilities in 59 countries with 100% renewable energy, up from 3.8% this year.

Obama to create first marine national monument in the Atlantic (NBC News) — The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is a special home to rare deep sea corals, endangered whales, and species found nowhere else on Earth.

Climate change “significant and direct” threat to U.S. military: reports (Reuters) — Former top national security officials and U.S. military officials are calling for the next president to create a cabinet-level position to fight climate change.

Think wind power is cheap now? Wait until 2030 (Greentech Media) — In just over a decade, the cost of wind power could come down 25% or more.

Trump campaign taps GOP energy lobbyist as adviser (Politico) — Trump adds yet another fossil fuel lobbyist to his presidential campaign, signaling the disastrous climate policies a Trump administration would bring.

 

 

Voting will help fight climate change

Are you registered to vote?dnc-button

Election Day is just around the corner, and this year, your vote will help fight climate change and keep American families healthy and safe. If we don’t vote, we could have a president who rips up the historic Paris Agreement, our only chance at avoiding catastrophic sea level rise, extreme storms, and devastating drought caused by climate change. We can’t let that happen.

We need a president who will make sure all Americans, especially our kids and grandkids, have access to clean air and safe water. We need a president who will put America on a path to clean, renewable electricity, rebuild our water infrastructure, and create good-paying clean-energy jobs. This year, your vote is a vote for a clean energy future.

Voter registration deadlines are fast approaching. Most registration deadlines are several weeks or a month before November 8th. In Pennsylvania and Ohio for instance, you need to register by October 11th. If you want to cast your vote in North Carolina in November, make sure you’re registered by October 14th.

Click here to register to vote for healthy families and a safe climate.

NRDC Action Fund’s Weekly News Summary

Here’s what’s happening in politics and the environment:

Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument is now larger than all the National Parks combined.

Hawaii’s new national monument is now larger than all the National Parks combined.

Top energy adviser says Donald Trump is solidly behind fracking- Donald Trump said he could support local bans on fracking. Then oil mogul Harold Hamm corrected the record. (Wall Street Journal)

Hawaii is now home to an ocean reserve twice the size of Texas- The National Park Service turned 100 this week, and President Obama celebrated by creating the biggest protected area on the planet. (National Geographic)

California lawmakers approve extension of climate change law- It’s the most aggressive climate change legislation in the country. (Fox Business)

Changing opinions on climate change, from a CNN meteorologist- A CNN meteorologist explains why climate change is an urgent problem, not a political football. (CNN)

America’s first offshore wind farm may power up a new industry- Five windmills off the coast of Rhode Island will power 17,000 New England homes. (New York Times)

Coal towns hit by layoffs to get job grants from U.S. gov’t- The Obama administration awarded nearly $39 million in grants to Appalachian communities. (ABC News)

Donald Trump should stop lying about coal

Trump coalOn Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced $38.8 million in federal grants for economic development projects in communities that are experiencing the toughest impacts of a declining coal industry. The awards are among the first of President Obama’s POWER+ plan which proposes $9 billion in investments to support economic development in regions that have for many decades relied on the coal industry for jobs and economic stability. Despite the GOP’s insistence that a Trump administration will bring about a resurgence of coal, the President is forging a more realistic path forward for coal country.

Earlier this year, we reported on the dangers of playing politics with this issue. As cheap natural gas undercuts demand for coal and the United States works to limit dangerous carbon pollution that destabilizes the climate, coal-mining communities will continue to face tough economic times. President Obama aims to make a real difference in the lives of folks impacted by the transition to cleaner energy sources.

Hillary Clinton does too. Secretary Clinton has proposed a $30 billion plan to revitalize America’s coal communities, ensuring coal miners and their families retain their rightful place in a 21st century economy. Building on President Obama’s progress, Clinton’s plan would invest in the economic diversification of coal communities, creating new high-skill jobs and ensuring access to much-needed healthcare. Hillary Clinton plans to help coal communities retrain and retool, emerging healthier and more prosperous than before.

Donald Trump, however, does not. Mr. Trump promises to reopen coal mines closed by failing coal companies, companies that irresponsibly banked on an industry they knew was, in a competitive market, destined for collapse (paying out huge CEO bonuses in the process). Mr. Trump claims to be“thinking about miners all over this country.” Clearly, he isn’t.

If he were, he’d stop making empty promises to hard-working Americans who have lost pensions they’ve counted on for decades. He’d develop a plan to help laid off coal miners learn the skills they need to succeed without relocating themselves and their families. If Mr. Trump cared about the miners, he’d admit that climate change isn’t a “hoax” invented by China but an urgent problem that is profoundly changing the way Americans produce and consume energy.

The next administration must build on President Obama’s economic redevelopment progress in the face of climate change. Every effort to undermine it will leave hardworking Americans and their communities less prepared for a 21st century economy. Donald Trump’s attempt to deny American families economic opportunities for his own political gain isn’t just bad policy?—?i
t’s bad character.

Kevin Curtis is executive director of the NRDC Action Fund.