Since taking office, Trump’s administration has made taken many volatile policy turns including resurrecting projects for both the Keystone XL and the Dakota pipelines. Banned in the past for the inevitable damage they would inflict upon the environment. Back tracking upon President Obama’s initiative to work toward renewable energy for the United States, President Trump has entrusted the delicate well-being of our planet’s ecosystems to the discretion of energy companies, who have an advocate in new Secretary of State, ex-Exxon-Mobile CEO Tillerson. The Keystone pipeline is an oil pipeline proposed to carry crude oil from Canada to the Houston area for refining. The Keystone XL pipeline is the fourth phase of the same pipeline, proposed to carry 800,000 barrels of synthetic crude oil and bitumen every day. The pipeline gained a lot of controversy because of its routing over the sand hills in Nebraska. Locals in the area strongly resisted the building of a pipeline due to their livelihoods being threatened from leaks or contaminations. Similar issues arose during the development of the Dakota Access pipeline, with both of its proposed paths running through problematic ranges, namely the Standing Rock Sioux Indian reservation. Critics argued that it would endanger drinking water for people in the area, as well as inflict damage on sacred burial sites. Both were rejected for development by the Obama administration, but have found new life in The Apprentice’s frontrunner, who even goes as far to deny the existence of extreme protest on the matter.
Toxic Enabling of Fossil Fuels
Proponents for developing such pipelines assert that their construction and maintenance would create many jobs, and improving national security by relieving foreign reliance on energy. While those claims are valid, it is an unsustainable practice to invest in any new forms of energy that are not green or renewable energy. Yes, America consumes huge amounts of power and needs a consistent and efficient source of energy to keep up the status quo, and yes, we have been using oil and gas successfully as our primary sources of power for generations. However, we cannot continue to live the way that we do without suffering great environmental consequences. Pipelines carrying oil and petroleum products have a harried history of producing toxic byproducts, finding their way into water and air supplies even without the mayhem of frequent pipe leaks. The pipeline risks contamination of water aquifers, corrosion of lines leading to catastrophic spills, not to mention constant production of greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse effect is the effect of atmospheric gases absorbing energy from the sun’s radiation and from the earth, and trapping it near Earth’s surface. This is a natural phenomenon leading to a temperature range warm enough to sustain life. As a result of human processes, especially from the burning of fossil fuels for energy, we have seen unnatural levels of trapped heat, as if we were in an ever-warming greenhouse.
Incentivizing Green Living:
Everyone is going to have to make some lifestyle changes, with solar panels and renewable solar energy emerging as a frontrunner in first-line energy replacement. Known as an environmentally friendly administration, President Obama enacted a federal solar tax credit, allowing you to deduct from your federal taxes 30% of what it costs you to buy a solar energy system, including the fees rendered for installation. This practice, named the investment tax credit (ITC), provides this perk for both residential and commercial purposes, and does not place a cap on the value of the solar energy equipment you may cite. Solar energy is a promising method of delivering energy to those that need it while making a positive environmental impact, contributing to American energy independence, and helps to satiate the demand for employment. This practice was put into place to encourage individuals and businesses to direct their consumption toward renewable energy and to make it a more accessible option for the home owning class. Also in place are performance-based initiatives, paying solar energy unit owners per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by their unit.
Time is of the Essence:
With an Executive cabinet, renowned for their denial of climate change, a Trump presidency could have dire consequences for our delicate environment. With little over a month in office, the new administration has already made strides to backtrack on Obama’s vision for a cleaner future. Solar energy has seen some success in recent years, primarily owed to the ITC subsidizing costs and encouraging the growth of small scale renewable energy installation. In the first weeks after January 20th, Trump released a rollback executive order adopting a “one-in, two-out” policy when editing environmental regulations. Under this, when adding one regulation, you must get rid of two. His stance is that regulations have “gotten out of control”, although each was set into place with great consideration of its impact. Under his direction, the U.S. House has voted to overturn a rule banning the killing of hibernating bears or wolf pups in their dens, making it now lawful to violently snuff out unsuspecting animals as they sleep. With this sort of track record, it would not come as a surprise if the White House moved to eliminate the ITC subsidies. The federal ITC was initiated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 during the George W. Bush Administration, proving that climate change denial is not entirely partisan. It was due to expire in 2007, but found extended life through 2015. While in 2015 Congress approved an extension of the solar energy tax credit extending the ITC through 2021, it is not out of the question that this provision could be lifted by the acting president.
Taking Your Stand:
Before the 2016 addendum, the credit couldn’t be claimed unless their solar energy system was operational. Since its inception, the credits ultimately due to citizens is available to them as soon as they begin construction with the promise of functionality by 2023. By incentivizing citizens to install sustainable sources of energy, we are laying the groundwork for a greener future on the world scale. Installation of these units otherwise helps to stimulate the economy by creating manufacturing and installation jobs and may free up money to spend recreationally down the road. With America waking up from a green future to a Trump-stained world of instability, investing in green energy by taking advantage of the Solar Energy tax credit before it is too late being a powerful way to take a stand.