Trump's Climate Policies Could Impact National Security
SALT LAKE CITY – National-security experts say President Trump's attempts to roll back efforts to slow global climate change could make the country less safe.
Retired Marine Corps General Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, says climate change already is destabilizing volatile regions such as the Middle East and threatening U.S. military bases as sea levels rise. He says the president's statement that the EPA's Clean Power Plan would do irreparable harm to the nation is simply not true.
"We feel strongly that the Clean Power Plan was a good idea, that we need to be transitioning over to renewable energies, we need to get off of fossil fuels, in particular coal," he said.
The administration believes climate regulations cost jobs and hinder growth. But Cheney notes Defense Secretary Jim Mattis agrees with the scientific consensus that climate change is man-made and also a threat to stability, and he is likely to include it in his national-security plans.
Leia Guccione, a defense council member with the Truman National Security Project says pulling back on renewables also would put the nation's economic security at risk.
"And if this becomes something that's a lower priority for the U.S., then countries like China are happy to take the lead innovating and being the go-to manufacturer and solution provider for things like wind and solar," she said.
She says Trump's emphasis on returning to coal could distract from more important investments such as bringing the nation's 100-year-old power grid into the 21st century, a move she says is necessary to protect against climate change as well as terror and cyber attacks.
Trump has said his executive orders will put coal miners back to work. But Cheney says economics, not public policy, are behind the decline in coal use.
Cheney is convinced the future lies in developing clean, renewable energy.
"You'd think that would appeal to the Trump administration," he added. "Hey, these are business guys, it's cheaper to have solar power and wind power. Why wouldn't we do that instead of coal? So, that's what's going to drive coal out of business."