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A Look At Energy Policy Under A Trump Administration


President-Elect Donald Trump has picked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a climate change skeptic and has been critical of regulations set by the agency.

On Think, Krys Boyd talked with David Biello, a contributing editor at Scientific American, about the impact this choice might have on American energy policy. He’s the author of “The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth's Newest Age.”

The KERA Interview

David Biello on …

… the effect Donald Trump’s administration will have on energy policy:

“The reality is that even the U.S. president, arguably the most powerful person in the world, only has so much power to kind of change the fate of human civilization. Trump can talk about bringing coal back, but coal didn’t go away because of anything that the Obama administration did. It went away because cheap natural gas became available, and utility executives like to make money so they burned cheaper natural gas instead of burning coal … That said, obviously governments can kind of help or hinder these transitions. I don’t think we’ll be making the shift quite as quickly as we might have under, say, a continuing Obama administration or some other alternative. That said, it’s not going to halt that progress completely. Those trends are independent of what a Trump administration does.”  

… what’s at stake:  

“This is the only place in the universe that we know of to bear life. And certainly the only place in the whole universe to bear life like us. So, it’s pretty important that we keep the Earth going. More important that we keep the Earth habitable for people. That’s really what’s at stake here. Whether it’s climate change, or mass extinctions, or whatever other environmental problem you want to point to. It’s not that the planet will be over, it’s that human civilization will be over.”      

… using a holistic approach:  

“Typically, we’ve tried to solve things in isolation, right. So you end up with things like getting ethanol from corn to power our cars, which ends up being bad for clean water and climate change, but perhaps good for energy independence. We need to start thinking about things in a more holistic sense so that we can solve problems without creating more problems that are even worse.”