Trump’s Staggering Impact on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday released yet another dismal monthly report on the state of the global climate, concluding that last month was the fourth-hottest July ever recorded globally and that 2018 is shaping up to be the fourth-hottest year on record. The federal agency also found that sea ice levels in the Arctic and Antarctic were well below average. Nowhere in the world saw a single record cold temperature.

Obama implemented a regulation to limit leaks of methane—a powerful greenhouse gas—from oil and gas operations. Finalized in 2016, the rule was intended to prevent the equivalent of 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide escaping into the air by the year 2025. The Trump administration has moved to repeal that rule without a weaker replacement. The courts will ultimately decide whether he succeeds, but if he does, it could result in two million cars’ worth of emissions added to the atmosphere.

But that’s nothing compared to the projected impact of Trump’s recently announced plan to repeal and replace Obama’s fuel efficiency rules for vehicles. From The New York Times (emphasis mine):

Assuming the plan is finalized and survives legal challenges, America’s cars and trucks would emit an extra 321 million to 931 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere between now and 2035 as a result of the weaker rules, according to an analysis by the research firm Rhodium Group. A separate estimate by the think tank Energy Innovation pegged the number even higher, at 1.25 billion metric tons.

In other words, Trump’s new fuel efficiency rule would have the same climate effect as putting 68 to 267 million cars on the road for a year. Add his Clean Power Plan replacement and methane rule repeal, and the effect would be an additional 140 to 339 million cars. That’s the same as adding 164 to 397 coal-fired power plants to the grid for a year.

Those emissions would only hasten the slow-motion catastrophe of climate change. National Geographic reported on Monday that some Arctic permafrost—which is supposed to be permanently frozen—is no longer freezing even in winter. Permafrost contains greenhouse gases, which get released into the atmosphere when it thaws. Those gases then cause more warming, which causes more permafrost thaw. “This is a significant milestone in a disturbing trend,” permafrost expert Ted Schuur told the magazine. It’s one of many disturbing climate trends that seem certain to continue under Trump.

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