Environmentalist: It’s going to be a long four years

Industrial smoke stacks. (Big Stock image)

Industrial smoke stacks. (Big Stock image)

NJ Spotllight is looking at how New Jersey will fare under a Trump administration. Read our analysis of how New Jersey’s health care system might change under President Trump. 

Environment

Of the few policy details Trump did espouse during the campaign, many of them had to do with energy and the environment. The Republican often supported weakening the maze of environmental regulations, and called for bolstering efforts to allow expanded exploration for oil, natural gas, and coal. He wants to scale back the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency, killing its plan to combat global warming by ratcheting down emissions from the nation’s power plants.

In many ways, the battles a Trump administration wages with clean-energy proponents and environmental groups is likely to repeat many of the fights waged in New Jersey during the first seven years under Republican Governor Chris Christie.

Indeed, Christie joined more than two dozen other states challenging the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, the cornerstone of the president’s efforts to deal with climate change. New Jersey has refused to come up with a plan to comply with Clean Power — even if it ends up on the losing end of its court challenge.

“It’s going to be a long four years,’’ predicted Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, one of the groups that often has wound up in court challenging what it viewed as rollbacks of environmental regulations on the state level.

Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey chapter, agreed. “In the next administration, the environment will be ‘Trumped,’’’ he said. “We’ll see some of the biggest battles on the environment since before Earth Day.’’

The issues likely to embroil the two sides range from opening up federal lands to oil exploration and mining, more battles over fracking — the controversial drilling technique use to extract oil and gas — and a weakening of the nation’s clean-water and clean-air regulations, Tittel said.

But some argue that the success achieved by clean-energy technologies, such as solar and wind, in lowering their costs while providing an economic engine to various parts of the country will keep those sectors thriving.

“The market has kind of spoken,’’ O’Malley noted. “You can’t veto innovation.’’

Andrew Steer, president of World Resources Institute, echoed that sentiment on a conference call with reporters assessing the significance of the U.S. election. “If you want robust growth, you have to act on climate change,’’ he said.

__________________________________________

NJ Spotlight, an independent online news service on issues critical to New Jersey, makes its in-depth reporting available to NewsWorks.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.