Continued Political Opposition
Despite the conversion of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell early in 2019, many long-time opponents of federal environmental regulation and a big federal government continue to deny the validity of climate science. The opposition has steadily shifted over the last 25 years, from outright denial of the science of global warming to a grudging acceptance that climate change was happening but was not a result of human activity. In 2014, former deniers tried a different strategy, with multiple politicians claiming “I am not a scientist” to avoid commenting on what is becoming increasingly evident: climate change is real and we are starting to see the effects.
Even as some begin to acknowledge the reality of climate change, they remain adamant that the federal government is not going to regulate its way to a solution. Their position fails to recognize that government has, throughout our history, often been the best – if not only – option for taking on such problems.
Debates about the most environmentally pure alternative energies have the potential to slow and even halt progress towards implementing any alternatives. To date, all alternatives supported by current technologies have known limitations and negative environmental impacts, but all outperform oil and gas when it comes to reducing or eliminating carbon emissions. Vested interests supporting each technology are lobbying and will continue to lobby government and the public for support, creating potential delays to the reduction of CO2 emissions.
Solutions that do not take into consideration legacy industries and the jobs and communities built around them will meet resistance and hinder a prompt and continuing response. The federal government can play an important role in this transition. It is best positioned to work with lawmakers and businesses to bring change-related opportunities to those communities that have been hardest hit by the decline in industrial markets.