Trump vs. our climate: We are not helpless.

Things are very very bad on the environmental front. Trump issued his executive orders intending to do away with much of Obama’s climate legacy. And the sociopath Scott Pruitt is already going about gutting the EPA with great abandon — and questionable legality. Read this heartbreaking article about the good professionals trying to do their jobs at the EPA now: 

To see the effects of climate change, Cox invited Pruitt to “visit the Pacific Northwest and see where the streams are too warm for our salmon to survive in the summer; visit the oyster farmers in Puget Sound whose stocks are being altered from the oceans becoming more acidic; talk to the ski area operators who are seeing less snowpack and worrying about their future; and talk to the farmers in Eastern Washington who are struggling to have enough water to grow their crops and water their cattle.  The changes I am referencing are not impacts projected for the future, but are happening now.”

Trump’s proposed EPA budget is the vehicle for his science-doubting policies.

His 31 percent budget decrease would be the largest among agencies not eliminated. It would result in layoffs for 25 percent of the staff and cuts to 50 EPA programs, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Lost would be more than half the positions in the division testing automaker fuel efficiency claims.

What insane, reckless greed would cause us to destroy an extraordinarily successful agency, one who counts its successes in lives saved and improved, and in billions and trillions of dollars saved? Which saves kids from lead poisoning and asthma, and would save them a livable planet? Because it advocates for the public good versus narrow, greedy interests all the time. For these folks, it is their job. Of course, almost by definition, they are under threat.

Let’s not sugar-coat it: We are up against the wall. But we are not helpless. There are many, many levers of influence, and if one doesn’t go our way, we grab another.

Note that it will take years to unwind the Clean Power Plan. It is, after all, the implementation of law — one confirmed by Massachusetts vs. EPA, which turns 10 years old today! And even more than federal action, we can affect the actions of states and municipalities, many of which are continuing to lead the way on reducing emissions. Trump may want to bring back coal, but he can’t make us buy it. 

What can we do? Good gravy, what can’t we do? Trump has given us all a middle finger — but there are ways to give it right back.


  • Call your State Rep and Senator and tell them to support S.1849, a bill requiring that MA use 100% renewable energy by 2050. Happy that my rep Sean Garballey and Sen. Ken Donnelly are among the sponsors. You know the number, 617-722-2000 is the State House switchboard. Go do it!
  • And while you’re on the phone, mention that they should revisit last year’s energy bill and add a 2% annual increase in the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. That adds up!
  • Fight gas pipelines at home. A Spectra pipeline just ruptured in Rhode Island; given the dangers, should we continue to build capacity? The communities through which this pipeline would be routed are up in arms — watch for this as a potential sleeper issue vs. Baker in 2018.
  • Fight for the T: It’s an engine of economic growth, economic justice, and lowering emissions.
  • See ProgressiveMass’s Infrastructure/Environment agenda for specific bills. (Rest of it is good too!)


  • Hug an environmental lawyer; and then fund one.  These things are going to be tied up in court for a while. Remember that the Clean Power Plan is an implementation of law; the EPA is required to regulate CO2 as a pollutant.
  • Sen. Brian Schatz has called Pruitt’s hollowing out of the EPA “a national scandal” and voiced doubt via Twitter that his actions are legal. Again, that’s what lawyers are for.
  • Join an Indivisible group and show up to your reps’ town hall meetings during the recess. We need to protect the EPA in the same way — and for many of the same reasons — that we protect our health care. Make Republicans fear an anti-EPA budget vote, for instance.
  • Come to the People’s Climate Mobilization 4/29, either in DC (grab a bus ticket here) or in Boston. Be a drop in the wave.
  • Or if you prefer, go to the March for Science 4/22, an event with considerable overlap of interest with the Climate march. In either of these events, there will be plenty of folks with clipboards or apps trying to get people to dig even deeper.

I am uncomfortable as an enviro lifestyle-monger — all have fallen short of the glory, after all — but surely there are ways we can change behavior to reduce demand for destructive things. You are not the only one: People make conscientious choices all the time. And you don’t have to convert your whole lifestyle all at once: Make one change at a time. Like those ads on the Sox radio broadcasts … “It all starts with just one thing.” Whatever your next lifestyle tweak you could make … now would be a great time to do it.

I compare the energy in the climate/enviro movement to the health care mobilization, and I’m often a little disappointed that it doesn’t come up with the same urgency. We seem to have forgotten what it was like without environmental protection. My aspiration is that climate and environmental concerns may burrow deep into the culture — so that it’s ubiquitous, pervasive, and simply shapes the decisions we make every day. In the long term that will defeat Trump and Pruitt, regardless of what rottenness they have in store now.


6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. It won't be nearly as effective...

    …but this is a key policy area where if the feds won’t do their jobs, there’s nothing keeping the states from taking the lead.

  2. No more online shopping and cut down on the Target

    Or at least get the kindle version. I’ve been listening to Containers which is a great podcast discussing the human tool of containerized shipping. All diesel and they produce 2-3% of the worlds entire carbon emissions. Port cities that receive these boats have higher asthma and cancer rates reducing the life experience for residents of this neighborhoods by nearly ten years. And it contributes to the cycle of outsourcing American jobs overseas.

    Support your local bookstores and brick and mortar retailers!

    • online vs. local is irrelevant for climate

      With respect to climate and pollution, it doesn’t matter if you buy that plastic or electronic gizmo from Amazon or Target or your local mom and pop.

      If you’re going to make shopping choices with the environment in mind — buy less stuff. Buy more local keg beer at the bar and go to more music shows (rock or opera or both). Go get a massage or buy some legal advice. Spend your money on software.

      Or, don’t. It’s your life.

  3. Boston Opportunity

    I’ve been publishing a weekly listing of Energy (and Other) Events at and as a listserv for about 8 years now. These are all public events, mostly free, at local colleges and universities and in the community. The Boston area is an academic center of the world. Experts and policy-makers from all over the world come here to talk and you can meet people that you might only see on the TV screen in seminar rooms and ask them pointed questions.

    I’ve been trying to convince 350MA, Mothers Out Front, and other environmental groups to make use of this opportunity but, so far, have had little or no success. My guess is that people do not see the political possibilities of confronting the powerful in academic settings, politely, or collecting as much of the expert information that is presented almost every day around this town. I know from my own experience that interested laypeople can help break the academic silos and inform experts in one field about information from another field that may be of use to them. I know I’ve done it. The fact is that a group of people who decided to divvy up the public events just on climate change or energy and share their notes would shortly have a better view of the issue than most of the experts in the field because the energy economists are not going to the climatologist lectures and the climatologists are not going to the solar research lectures.

    There is a real opportunity here but I can’t seem to make the case strongly enough so that others will actually pick up on it. It is increasingly frustrating and, frankly, my failure is beginning to gnaw at me.

    Additionally, I’d like to see a searchable listing of ALL the public events from ALL the local colleges and universities in the Boston area. Imagine what a stimulus that could be to the educational, economic, and innovation prospects for Boston and MA. Too bad I can’t get a call back from the Commonwealth, the cities of Boston or Cambridge, or the academic institutions involved.

  4. Support S.1876! 1876 would ramp up our RPS increase from 1% to 2% per year, and would include munis. Huh?

    1. We require our utilities (Eversource, Grid, Unitil) to procure renewable electricity on our behalf. Currently, all in, it’s about 17% for 2017, growing by 1% each year. S 1876 would require it to grow by 2% each year.
    2. We don’t require our munis (Hull, Wellesley, etc etc) to procure any renewable electricity on their ratepayers behalf, and they don’t. Even Hull sells their green power to others and serves its customers with brown power. This bill would require munis to start serving some green power to their customers, initially 0.5% per year and growing by 0.5% per year, eventually growing by 1% per year, then 2%.

    S. 1876 isn’t enough. We’ve got to get up to fifth gear, and this puts us in 2nd . But you don’t get to fifth gear straight out of 1st, so lets work our way up. Current cosponsors:

    Marc R. Pacheco First Plymouth and Bristol
    John W. Scibak 2nd Hampshire
    Michael D. Brady Second Plymouth and Bristol
    Marjorie C. Decker 25th Middlesex
    Jason M. Lewis Fifth Middlesex
    Jack Lewis 7th Middlesex
    Daniel M. Donahue 16th Worcester
    Thomas J. Calter 12th Plymouth
    Michael F. Rush Norfolk and Suffolk
    Patrick M. O’Connor Plymouth and Norfolk
    Natalie Higgins 4th Worcester
    Kay Khan 11th Middlesex
    Paul R. Heroux 2nd Bristol
    Denise Provost 27th Middlesex
    Denise C. Garlick 13th Norfolk
    James B. Eldridge Middlesex and Worcester
    David M. Rogers 24th Middlesex
    Barbara A. L’Italien Second Essex and Middlesex
    Linda Dean Campbell 15th Essex
    Patricia D. Jehlen Second Middlesex
    Kenneth J. Donnelly Fourth Middlesex
    Patricia A. Haddad 5th Bristol
    Daniel J. Ryan 2nd Suffolk
    Kathleen O’Connor Ives First Essex
    Mike Connolly 26th Middlesex
    Elizabeth A. Malia 11th Suffolk

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Mon 24 Apr 11:18 AM