PennFuture Blog

Our Perspectives on the Latest Issues

What a Trump presidency means for our environment and future generations.

by Larry J. Schweiger

What's Next for Pennsylvania?

It’s the morning after and we are all wondering what is next? It is a very dark place for the environment and I will not try to put varnish on it. President-elect Trump has promised to abolish EPA, to appoint climate deniers to key posts to retreat on environmental regulations, renege on the Paris Accord, and dismantle the efforts to advance clean power and bring back coal. Trump will have the House, Senate and Supreme Court on his side, so with a unified Republican government, his words will not come back empty.
The environment lost the biggest battle imaginable and the worst part of that is these urgent issues were rarely if ever mentioned. Greenland is in full-scale melt, the Arctic is moving to a complete summer melt and the earth is setting record-breaking temperatures now spewing its own carbon dioxide and methane. In the face of this and while watching the rapid expansion of frack gas, pipelines and generation infrastructure, there was not a single environmental or climate question in the debates. The media has utterly failed to address environmental threats.
In the face of Citizen’s United, gerrymandering and massive amounts of dark money, the environmental community has largely failed to restructure itself to be able to be actively engage politically to add our voice to the debate. In that vacuum, major donors moved into the state, created their own structures, spent millions creating incompetent and ineffective grassroots while we were left sitting on the sidelines. We must own that and make this moment a turning point.
While Hillary Clinton gave one good speech in Florida and mentioned the climate from time to time, neither candidate really made protecting our environment a pivotal National issue. At the state level, I understand we lost our best friend Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky and Katie McGinty went down in the most expensive Senatorial election in American history. The process has utterly failed and the majority of American voters have failed our children and their future.
On a personal level it is extremely distressing. Once again, I just shake my head at the enormous mistake that American voters made yesterday as I consider my grandchildren’s future. I have been fighting for progress on climate for most of my career and I have experienced repeated legislative failures starting with the BTU tax in 1993. Looking forward and we must do that, we need to be careful not to be Pollyanna or even reassuring. This is kick in the worst place possible and we all need to search within ourselves, within our community and decide how we move forward in the days ahead.
I am reminded of what General U. S. Grant did after a brutal defeat at both Shiloh and at Wilderness. Grant did not retreat, as other Generals urged him to do, instead he attacked. In the face of daunting and almost impossible odds I dust myself off and together we must march forward.
The fight is not over, attack we must.
Larry J. Schweiger
President and CEO
Citizens for PennFuture

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