President Trump’s imposition of tariffs on imported solar panels is hard to reconcile with current energy trends, which indicate a booming market in renewable energy. The National Geographic 2017 film From the Ashes cited 425,000 jobs in that sector, far more than in coal, Trump’s favorite fuel. His act seems inexplicable unless he’s still campaigning rather than governing; the coal states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, and Ohio helped send Trump to the White House and he probably thinks they’ll do it again. His self-centered loyalties demonstrate a willful indifference to coal as the leading source of carbon emissions and air and water pollutants. As a West Virginia native my experience of coal as an economic force and environmental disaster is vivid. I remember climbing to the top of the mountainous pile of coal in the basement “bin,” and experiencing its ability to blacken everything it touched, including me. I remember my railroader-worker grandfather’s slow death in our house from lung disease. From the Ashesreports that between four and 17 tons of coal dust blow into the environment during an average train trip. According to the American Lung Association coal plant particulates kill about 7,500 Americans every year.
Politico notes that fewer than 1/3 of Americans support Trump’s approach to environmental policy. Congress could counteract regressive Federal Administration policies by legislating a carbon tax on fossil fuels. The version of this tax plan supported by Citizen’s Climate Lobby is revenue neutral – 100% of the net revenue will be returned directly to households. CCL’s carbon fee and dividend plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 52% below 1990 levels within 20 years while growing the economy and saving lives. We need to pressure Congress to reject Trump’s black future for this country by voting in a tax on carbon.