*The following is opinion by R Muse*
After Americans listened to FBI Director Comey’s and Vladimir Putin’s designee as America’s next White House occupant, they probably are aware that the nation’s environmental protections are set for a proper deletion as if they never existed. That is, after all, exactly what the Koch brothers have demanded for thirty-plus years and something Donald Trump has pledged to see to fruition. It is why he chose an oil industry acolyte and sworn enemy of the Environmental Protection Agency to oversee its dismantling to demonstrate that when dumb Donnie says climate change is a Chinese hoax he is serious about “making America great again” by dismissing science as a hoax; likely perpetrated by those Chinese folks.
Of course, the Trump has pledged to reverse any and all environmental protections put in place by President Barack Obama, or any other administration, and disavows America’s agreements with the rest of civilized humanity to combat what is the greatest threat to Americans’ health, the economy, and national security – anthropogenic climate change.
Yesterday, Tuesday, President Obama demonstrated that, despite Trump’s pledge to undo all of American environmental protections, he is devoted to protecting Americans enough to cite a sixty-three-year-old law that empowers him, as sitting President, to act unilaterally and permanently ban offshore oil and gas drilling along the Eastern and Alaskan Seaboards. The President’s declaration entails a “permanent ban on oil and gas drilling” on the ocean floor from Virginia to Maine, and along “much of Alaska’s coastline.”
It is noteworthy that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “simultaneously announced a ban on new drilling in Canadian Arctic waters. President Obama said,
“These actions, and Canada’s parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth. They reflect the scientific assessment that even with the high safety standards that both our countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.”
Other presidents have, in fact, used an obscure provision in the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to “temporarily” protect small portions of federal waters, but President Obama’s declaration is taking great advantage of part of an “Act” that was passed by a Republican-majority Congress and signed into law by a Republican president. With a moron disguised as a conscious human being and an “alt-right” Congress in thrall of, and deeply indebted to, the Koch brothers’ oil industry, President Obama’s attempt to protect America’s coastline will likely be challenged in the federal courts; courts the Koch brothers co-own with Russian Vladimir Putin and evangelical religious extremists.
According to a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School, Patrick Parenteau said the President Obama’s ‘declaration’ has “never been done before, there is no case law on this. It’s uncharted waters.”
The President’s action, “considered creative by supporters and abusive by opponents,” is an obvious effort to protect as many of America’s environmental policies as he possibly can from Trump who vowed to roll them all back into non-existence. In fact, The New York Times noted that part of the reason the President, in concert with the rest of the world’s leaders, rushed to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change was to put the multinational accord into force before Trump is considered the president.
Environmentalists were quick to draw comparisons between President Obama’s clever use of the 1953 law to ban new drilling and an earlier “declaration” to protect Americans health from dirty air and combat climate change. It is what the Koch brothers and Republicans called tyrannical overreach and an illegal effort to combat climate change Republicans and Trump claim is non-existent. The President earlier found, and embraced, an obscure and rare provision in the 1970 Clean Air Act to enact lifesaving regulations requiring states to begin shifting their electricity generating systems from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. As an aside, during a news conference on Monday, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman proudly announced that,
“We can brag that the city, this city of Las Vegas, is one of the few cities in the entire world that can boast using all of its power from a green source.” It was an announcement that is certain to inflame the Koch brothers and incite Trump to rage because a ten-year effort reached fruition before he could act out on the oil industry’s behalf and crush renewable energy usage.
Trump will likely harshly criticize the President for doing what a real leader is supposed to do; look out for the health and welfare of the American people. In fact, late last week President Obama finalized his permanent ban on Republican theocrats from withholding any federal family-planning funding from any health clinics that provide abortion services. That measure takes permanent effect two days before Putin’s man Trump is allowed to be in the White House. It is noteworthy that the new rule is meant specifically to prohibit the evangelical fanatics in Republicans states from using their bastardized interpretation of the Christian religion to impose restrictions on Americans’ rights or unconstitutionally force religion by legislation down Americans’ throats.
It isn’t unusual for an outgoing president to use the final days of their administration to enact policies important to protect Americans; particularly when the incoming administration vows to protect corporate profits. As the NYT noted, “Because of new and legally inventive strategies, Mr. Obama… may well have built firewalls around environmental policies that could hold off his successor — or at least keep him at bay for several years.”
The oil industry is, of course, apoplectic over a clever move by President Obama to protect Americans and their environment. The senior policy adviser at the American Petroleum Institute, one of the Koch cabal that controls congressional Republicans said “We don’t see how this could be permanent.” Legal experts say the President’s ban will withstand legal challenges because of specific language in the 1953 law that says, “The president of the United States may withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the Outer Continental Shelf.” As a lawyer working for the oil industry against President Obama’s Administration commented, “The statute does not say, ‘A president can reinstate.’ It only seems to be one-directional.”
This latest action by President Obama reveals that not only is he committed to protecting Americans until his last day in office, he is acutely aware that Trump has every intent to protect dirty fossil fuel at the expense of national security, economic prosperity, and the American people’s health and well-being. Many Americans are cognizant that President Obama has been the only firewall to all manner of Republican atrocities over the past eight years, and they should rejoice that at least in the foreseeable future, no matter how abominable the Trump-Republican assault on the environment may be, at least two major portions of America’s coastlines will be protected.
It isn’t the greatest news, but these days anything that isn’t terrifying should be welcomed and celebrated. Because in a few weeks the concept of good news in America will be a thing of the past for everyone but Vladimir Putin, the Koch brothers and the evangelical fanatics who will completely own and operate the United States government.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.