How’s that for a deal? Illinois will pay a painful price and get few or no meager benefits.
We are talking about two inexcusable plans by the Trump administration to degrade the environment. As hard as it may sound to stop Trump at this point, we have to find a way to do it.
On Monday, the administration finalized a plan to open part of Alaska’s pristine but fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. Last week, the administration changed rules designed to prevent methane – a dangerous greenhouse gas – from escaping from oil and gas wells and pipelines.
Both of these moves are bad for Illinois.
Accelerated climate change
Illinois does not have much of an oil and gas extraction industry, which would be expected to benefit from these policy changes. These changes will also not bring jobs in Illinois, as some claim for Alaska. But we are already suffering damage from the kind of climate events caused by greenhouse gases, and the damage will get worse. Trump’s initiatives aren’t just a problem for polar bears, caribou, and people plagued by rising sea levels on the coasts. They are a problem for all of us.
If energy companies are allowed to unlock the vast supply of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases atop the Arctic Circle, we are talking about accelerating climate change rather than mitigating it. The same goes for the release of more methane when it escapes from oil and gas wells and pipelines.
This is not good news for the Chicago area, which has just had a rare derecho and more than a dozen tornadoes tear the city apart and the higher lake levels wash away beaches and hit the entire coastline of Illinois. Just last year, the United States Department of Agriculture declared a agricultural disaster in Illinois’ 102 counties because of flooding that damaged our crops and our economy. No single weather event can be attributed to climate change, but climatologists tell us to expect more of this stuff as the planet warms.
US Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill. Calls the drilling of the Arctic refuge an “attack on the environment” and he is right. US Representative Sean Casten, D-Ill., Calls him “absolutely bonkers.” He is also right. The world not only has an oil glut, but it must also transition as fully and quickly as possible to non-carbon sources of energy.
Trump’s plan will allow oil companies to drill 1.56 million acres in the Refuge Coastal Plain, which is sacred land to the indigenous Gwich’in people.
High costs, little gain
A New York Times analysis found that the drilling would bring only $ 45 million to the national treasury. The costs, however, would be exorbitant. The tire tracks of oil exploration 20 years ago are still visible today, as the nature of this part of the world takes so long to heal itself from the damage. Additionally, oil leaks would be extremely difficult to contain due to the difficulty of getting equipment to the freezing north, and oil in cold water would dissipate much more slowly than in the warm Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater disaster. Horizon in 2010.
Still, Home Secretary David Bernhardt said oil drilling leases could be auctioned off at the end of the year. Once the leases are auctioned, it will be difficult to cancel them.
A plane flies over caribou of the Porcupine Caribou herd on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. The Home Office has approved an oil and gas rental program within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The refuge is home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife.
US Fish and Wildlife Service via AP
In this file, an undated US Fish and Wildlife Service image obtained on August 3, 2001 shows the coastal plain within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. – The US Department of the Interior approved oil and gas drilling on August 17, 2020 in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska.
As for methane, it is a greenhouse gas 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, although it stays in the atmosphere much shorter. Reversing methane standards would invite many small operators to cut corners and let more methane escape, accelerating the pace of climate change. The US EPA estimates that the rule change, which could be overturned by the courts, would release an additional 850,000 tonnes of methane into the atmosphere over the next 10 years. Environmentalists say the real figure is much higher and that methane is already becoming a serious environmental problem.
As many other countries work to reduce the effects of climate change, the Trump administration is galloping in the other direction, determined to increase the rate of damage. Illinois residents should consider how this might affect agriculture in our state. In the near future, we may not be able to grow crops as abundantly as we do today.
“[The Arctic refuge] has been such political football for decades that it’s hard to say how political and how political it is. [is a response to] demand, when oil prices are drastically deflated, ”Josh Mogerman, spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told us on Wednesday.
Either way, it’s extremely dangerous.
Democrats are backing down
Lost in the headlines of the Democratic Party’s convention this week, there has been a low-key decision by the party, as part of its official platform, to drop the opposition taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels.
It is a mistake. We should all fight climate change as if the future of the planet depends on it. Because yes.
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