Science and TechClimate Change


The US Will Battle Climate Change Without Washington's Help

The federal government has rolled back climate-friendly policy — but climate-friendly policy doesn't always need the federal government's help.
Posted at 3:18 PM, Mar 28, 2017

The Trump administration is keeping its campaign promises to roll back environmental regulations. With weaker federal enforcement on CO2 limits and with a shrinking budget for the Environmental Protection Agency, it will be up to states and independent groups to run their own climate-friendly energy policies.

The good news is they've been doing this for years. States have teamed up to reduce carbon emissions. There are university programs and public funds for renewable energy research. Nonprofits rank each state based on energy efficiency. All of these programs work without oversight from Capitol Hill.

And some states plan to put more time and energy into climate work in light of President Donald Trump's cuts. California, for example, is ready to do its own research if it must.

"If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite," Gov. Jerry Brown said. "We're going to collect that data."

The economics of energy don't always align with the policy signals from Washington, either. Trump might have promised to bring back coal jobs, but the money just isn't there anymore. Coal plants are shutting down as part of a decadelong slide. Natural gas is cleaner and cheaper, and it's already producing more power than coal nationwide.

And even cleaner renewable energy is becoming too big to stop. Wind and solarpower are already competing with and sometimes undercutting fossil fuels. U.S. companiescities and whole states plan to be fully powered by renewable sources — whether the Trump administration is on board or not.