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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Frontline: Investing in jobs means investing in environment

Living in the greater Bellingham area and spending most of our days on campus, it almost feels like we can’t escape our cozy liberal think tank. Collectively, it’s difficult to understand those who still deny and actively worsen climate change. We are surrounded by a wide array of groups on campus advocating for environmental protection, supporting the future of sustainability and everything in between. If you’re anything like me, it’s frustrating when our president doesn’t understand basic concepts that the majority of college students do.

On Tuesday, March 28, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to rollback Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Obama focused on shutting down coal-fired power plants and regulating carbon emissions. In an effort to fulfill his campaign promise to bring back American jobs, Trump signed this order with the coal workers in mind and literally by his side.

“Coal is not clean. Coal is not infinite. Coal does not create economic growth nor does it have the ability to create enduring jobs. The same can’t be said for clean energy.”

During the presidential campaigns, the majority of candidates failed to notice those who economically depend on coal country. This oversight gave Trump an upper hand during the election. Because this demographic was largely ignored, Trump was able to capitalize on their vulnerability. He made a commitment to revive the coal industry. The president is now trying to keep his promise to these worried Americans, and I respect that as much as it pains me to admit it. However, if Trump truly cared about the longevity of these workers’ careers, he would be investing in clean energy.

The first section of the executive order states actions must “promote clean and safe development of our Nation’s vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.”

Coal is not clean. Coal is not infinite. Coal does not create economic growth nor does it have the ability to create enduring jobs. The same can’t be said for clean energy.

There are 1.9 million jobs in energy efficient industries which include solar, wind, hydroelectric and alternative vehicles. That means there are 30 times more jobs for Americans in clean energy than there are in the coal business. Although the fossil fuel industry isn’t dead, it is dying. Clean energy jobs exceed fossil fuel jobs 5 to 1.

As seen by his beginning stint as president and longtime hobby of complaining on the Internet, Trump doesn’t have the best foresight. His need for immediate and dramatic action overshadows the necessity of long-term planning.

States across the nation, Washington included, have realized the benefits of investing in clean energy. Washington has been a leader in the anti-coal movement. Due to the amount of hydroelectric dams and wind farms, the northwest doesn’t rely on coal like the rest of the U.S. does.

The state has struck a deal with two Centralia coal plants to phase out by 2020 and 2025. States need to set a precedent for one another. Although ahead of the curve, Washington must keep pushing for clean energy policies. We must keep pushing for energy policies.

In order to create more clean energy jobs, we must advocate at the state level to encourage development. Contact your representatives and let them know these are the issues you care about. Get involved with local protests like Bellingham March for Science taking place Saturday, April 22.

The rest of the country unfortunately doesn’t live in our Western bubble. Maybe if they did, they’d understand we can protect our planet while protecting our economy.

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