Judith Enck: The Rose Garden As A Crime Scene

Jun 8, 2017

The White House Rose Garden is typically used for positive Presidential announcements, a place where heads of state are greeted.

President Trump, however, has turned the Rose Garden into a crime scene.

The only thing missing is the yellow police tape surrounding the petunias.

The Rose Garden is where the President stood with cheering members of the House of Representatives who had just voted to deny affordable health care to millions of Americans.

And the Rose Garden is where he proclaimed that the United States was pulling out of the international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases – known as the Paris Accord.

Pulling out of the Paris Accord is the single most damaging decision President Trump has made in his young presidency. 

The Paris accord was signed by 195 nations, pledging international cooperation to reduce carbon pollution. 

The United States is the second largest emitter of carbon pollution. We agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent in the next ten years.

The only other countries that have refused to sign on are Nicaragua, because they believed that deeper pollution cuts are needed, and Syria.

The two main ways the US was going to achieve our pollution reduction goals was by EPA’s climate change regulation known as the Clean Power Plan, and by improving fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

President Trump has already announced that he will repeal both. So, unless state Attorneys General or environmental organizations prevail in Court, we have already lost these essential tools to de-carbonize our economy.

I don’t think the President fully understands the implications of what HE has done – but the fossil fuel lobbyists and climate denier front groups knew exactly what THEY were doing. 

Vice President Mike Pence went on Fox News and said: “For some reason, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left – in this country and around the world.”

Let’s just pause on “for some reason” Some of these reasons are:

Higher temperatures.

A loss of sea ice, accelerating sea level rise that flood communities.

longer and more intense heat waves.

Damage to health, spread of tropical diseases like zika, more wildfires.

97% of climate scientists agree:  pollution from human activities is causing climate change.

That explains the “for some reason”, Mr. Vice President.

And it’s not an issue for the left or the right or the center.

It’s an issue for all of us. 

When your home is destroyed by a hurricane made more intense because of climate change, or your child struggles with an asthma attack, it does not matter what your political affiliation is.

The impacts of climate change are here , and they are very real.

Walking away from the Paris accord will make all of this worse.

In explaining his decision, the President said: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

That didn’t sit well with the people of Pittsburgh, who have turned their steel industry economy around to be one that is based on clean energy, innovation and new jobs.

The Mayor of Pittsburgh just announced that his city is committing to getting its power from 100% renewable clean energy sources.

That is the kind of commitment that is worthy of  a Rose Garden announcement.

Judith Enck is a Senior Advisor at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and is a former EPA Regional Administrator.

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