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Trump Distorts Climate Proposals to Smear Biden as a ‘Socialist’


During the Republican National Convention last week, President Trump and his surrogates used environmental issues – especially climate change – to try to portray the moderate Joe Biden as a socialist radical.

“Biden has promised to abolish the production of American oil, coal, shale, and natural gas, laying waste to the economies of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas…and other states,” Trump said.

Trump’s warning laid waste to any notions of reality or truthfulness in the presidential campaign, because Biden has promised none of those things. 

As a matter of fact, when Biden was vice president, the Obama Administration encouraged innovations in the oil and gas industry -- hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling -- that were opposed by many environmentalists. Those innovations allowed America’s oil and gas industry to grow into the largest in the world, surpassing even those in Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Biden corrected the record on his alleged opposition to hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” -- during a speech on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

“I am not banning fracking,” Biden said.  “Let me say that again: I am not banning fracking, no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”  


But Biden – unlike Trump – has acknowledged that climate change is not a hoax. It’s a devastating work of nonfiction illustrated, for example, by recent recording-shattering 130 degree heat in southern California and wildfires raging across 1.7 million acres of that state.

During the Democratic Convention last month, Biden outlined his plans to address global warming by raising taxes on the rich to help pay for a gradual transition to more clean energy sources like solar and wind, as well as improved fuel efficiency for homes, businesses, and vehicles.

“We can and we will deal with climate change,” Biden said. “It’s not only a crisis. It’s an enormous opportunity.  It’s an opportunity for America to lead the world in clean energy, and create millions of good-paying jobs in the process.”

When Trump ran for president back in 2016, he made several environmental promises – including to dismantle EPA, withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords, roll back pollution control regulations, and save the coal industry.

He’s been partially successful on the first three of these—but a failure with coal. The rate of coal power plant closures actually accelerated during his presidency. For example, this year, two of Maryland’s largest coal-fired plants – Chalk Point, in Prince George’s County, and Dickerson, in Montgomery County – announced they would be switching to natural gas generators, because gas is cheaper.

Here’s Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland. “I would give President Trump an F on the environment. I mean, he’s completely dismantled all of the basic regulatory structures we had in place to make sure we were protecting our air and our water and our public lands,” Sarbanes said.

Evidence of that dismal grade?  Three times, President Trump tried to eliminate at least 90 percent of the funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which provides scientific analysis to support the Bay cleanup. All three times, he was stopped by the region’s bipartisan Congressional delegation.

That would seem to be a victory for the Bay. But then, despite the money, Trump’s EPA refused to enforce pollution limits for the bay’s biggest polluter, Pennsylvania – allowing backsliding by that state and more dumping on its downstream neighbors, including Maryland and Virginia.

By contrast, under Obama and Biden, the Chesapeake Bay’s overall health actually improved slightly. Under Trump, the waters have become murkier -- as has the value of truth in the White House.

Tom Pelton, a national award-winning environmental journalist, has hosted "The Environment in Focus" since 2007. He also works as director of communications for the Environmental Integrity Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health. From 1997 until 2008, he was a journalist for The Baltimore Sun, where he was twice named one of the best environmental reporters in America by the Society of Environmental Journalists.