Category: Executive Order

Trump: Environmental Evil-Doer or Regulatory Foe?

“Let’s destroy the earth with pollution!” … Said no respectable (or non-cartoon) person ever. Even still, President Trump has managed to send that message to his political rivals. Okay, to be fair, they pulled that message to the extreme, willingly, of course. Either way, here we are, beginning the debate (again) on whether or not we are destroying the earth in favor of the almighty dollar.

President Trump’s latest executive order (today, March 28, 2017) starts off with language that most of us agree on:

“It is further in the national interest to ensure that the Nation’s electricity is affordable, reliable, safe, secure, and clean, and that it can be produced from coal, natural gas, nuclear material, flowing water, and other domestic sources, including renewable sources. “

The President goes on to ask for a review, change, and revocation of regulations and procedures that are not required by law and that can get in the way of otherwise safe processing of energy sources. Still not bad really… the average household (yours included) has to update things every once in a while which might mean getting rid of a few rules. Theeeeeeeen, he begins to cite all of these executive orders from President Obama reports on guidance for energy emissions that will no longer be in effect. It sounded like bad juju to me too! However, a short review of the Obama actions reveals that nothing to terrible is being changed just yet.

The first Obama executive order to be nixed has some wonderful language about modernizing infrastructure and recommending that government agencies take steps to lessen the risk that they will contribute to climate change. Data.gov was established by this order and seems like a neat tool for the rest of us who aren’t waist-deep in this sort of stuff everyday. Sadly, information updates to the site under many topics seems to have stopped. The “climate” section hasn’t had a new entry since 2015. So I guess we won’t miss this one too much! There are a couple of councils that were created regarding climate change, but one that was ordered six months ago has apparently missed some suspense dates and I can’t even tell if this council (Climate and National Security Working Group) is staffed. You can’t miss what isn’t there! Trump has ordered that the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases be disbanded as well. Here’s my question… why were there so many councils on the same topic? I’m all about preserving our environment but as they say, too many hands in the pot will spoil the sauce. Anyone in the military will tell you about having meetings about meetings. LOL. It’s real. It has happened… and it feels like the same thing here. Because he disbanded the Greenhouse Gas group, he is tossing out their work as well. Ready for another saying from your grandma? He might just be tossing the baby out with the bath water. These types of reports are incredibly detailed and are written for specialists and experts in their field. I’m pretty much lost in the sauce (spoiled or not) when I read them. Nevertheless, the old standards and guidance of social cost of emissions from 2003 will go back into effect. Finally, he orders an end to the ban on leasing government land for the purpose of coal mining.

I’m still holding my breath on where this will go. It will depend largely on the agency administrators who are tasked with trimming down the regulation in their area. As for me, I will continue to do what I can: recycle, conserve gas, and pray my family remembers to turn off lights when they aren’t needed!

P.S. If you remember the cartoon Captain Planet and the Planeteers from the 90s… I wouldn’t tell the Captain about this… he’s gonna be pretty peeved. And now you have the theme stuck in your head just like me. You’re welcome. 😉

Where the Ban Went Wrong

I’m not going to lie… if I turn on the news and “ban” is the first word I hear one more time… a temper tantrum will be happening. Part of my frustration with this is that most of what you hear about President Trump’s executive order is the same, day in and day out. Naturally, that leaves me with questions, so I went looking. First, how does a travel ban from seven countries affect my family and friends? Second, what are the arguments between the states and executive branch? Third, what sort of protection does a travel ban actually give us anyway?

Within the court filings, you will find some really good arguments from the states. After reading them, I can’t see how the Trump administration can really win this one, folks. The states of Washington and Minnesota cite the companies affected by the ban with an interruption in travel, recruiting efforts (although I am sure that makes a segment of the population happy), and lost revenue of the companies resulting in loss of state tax revenue. I suppose that if you aren’t from these two states, you may still feel as though you aren’t affected but I would venture to say that there are companies in each state who have suffered similar losses during the brief enforcement of the executive order.

Perhaps a little closer to home is the loss, interruption, or delayed return travel of hundreds of university faculty and staff who were engaged in international travel for research and studies. Do I know any of these people personally? No, but I can imagine the fear and panic that they and their families experienced. As many Americans, I assumed that the travel ban only affected refugees not yet vetted, or people trying to get approval to immigrate. That is true, but you have to take out the “only” in the statement and include many other groups of people who already live here or have been approved to live here. As a mom, the implications make my heart break.

Remember how I said it wasn’t looking good for the Trump administration? A rather quick review of the response to the Trump administration’s request to block the block on the travel ban (so many blocks, right?) shows that the arguments given by the administration don’t seems to hold a lot of weight. The states argue that a TRO (temporary restraining order, which this is) is not appealable. The TRO only lasts until a judge decides on whether to grant a preliminary injunction. If that happens, the administration can appeal the injunction. The states also declare that Trump cannot prove “irreparable harm” greater than that of what the states have already shown on their side. Truly, can you prove that kind of harm if you only begin again a process that has been (arguably) working for several years? These points are a very basic overview of their argument, but they seem very convincing. Throw in the fact that the states used the phrase “unleash chaos” to refer to the implementation of the plan and you have a great formula of logic and emotion.

When I considered the idea of protection, I was drawn back to the claim of the states that they have university faculty and students who have been prevented from returning to the United States because of Section 3 ( c ) of the executive order. Unless you are coming to the United States under certain diplomatic conditions, persons from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen cannot return or come here using the visa that was acceptable just minutes before the order was signed. This seems like an unjust stipulation. I could possibly get behind postponing further visa approvals, but refusing to honor existing visas blanketed by category… that is just wrong. Terrorist organizations have a reach across the globe and money to back it up. If we block one country, they will just activate a recruit from another. I can’t stop thinking about the Iraqi citizens who helped the U.S. military… their category of visa is not included in the exceptions to the rule. Wow.

Most of the executive order seems like a fantastic idea. However, President Trump hurt his own agenda when he chose to prevent readmission to our country for those who have already called it home for some time and to turn away those who had already been approved to travel here. These people didn’t see this coming. Had they known, I am sure they would have cancelled their plans to travel abroad. I know I would have! I also looked at the FBI’s Terrorist Most Wanted list. Only four of the terrorists listed had citizenship in a banned country. That is the same amount of them that are listed as American citizens. That doesn’t really bode well for an argument of safety. This unfortunate pattern is only exaggerated when you look at the terrorist plots that were interrupted. Many of them were radicalized Americans or naturalized citizens. Perhaps as well-intentioned as a review of current processes may be, it would serve the American people better to focus on soil we live on instead of just trying to keep people off of it.

Terrorists are called such because they wish to incite fear and terror. Fear causes mistakes. Mistakes cost lives. We can’t operate our lives by fear.