Can the Local Nature of Energy Save Us?
A lot of energy production and use decisions are local. While Trump canceled progressive regulations, some of which were being blocked in the courts anyway, energy users can often make lower pollution and money saving choices. States, cities, building owners, and individuals have and can make such choices, independent of national party policies.
If we look at solar power per capita by states, Arizona (R) leads (about 165 Watts per capita capacity) followed by Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, California (about 65), Delaware, Colorado, etc.
Wind power in 2016 was 5.55% of US electricity generation. The January 2017 capacity was 82,000 megawatts (MW) (Wikipedia). Texas (R) was first with 20,300 MW, Iowa (R) second with 6,900, Oklahoma (R) third with 6,600, and California fourth (D) with 5,700 MW. Trump’s Secretary of Energy is Rick Perry, a previous 14 year Governor of Texas, who favored wind power. These show the Midwest wind phenomena, in the top three states, with 34,000 MW, or 41% of the total. They are also Republican states, with Texas being the second largest US state, and the largest Republican state. Scott Pruitt, Destroyer of the EPA, was Oklahoma’s Attorney General.
Clearly, Clean Energy subsidies are important for the states with effective solar and wind exposures. In California, the deserts for solar, wind passes and wind farms are also in rural areas. Concern with California’s large agricultural output and Sierra snowpack for summer water is centered in the long term about global warming. Head of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Trump affiliate Devin Nunes, is from the Central Valley, East of Fresno. So even at the local levels, Republicans from farm districts are very concerned about Climate Science and Change.
The dams that produce clean power also regulate water for agriculture and drinking water, and stream flows for recreations. They don’t work without adequate rainfall and snowpack for water retention. All of these can be affected by climate changes.
Individuals make decisions on clean energy by using energy saving lights and appliances, and not overcooling or overheating. Where available, they can choose to pay for clean electricity, which is used to buy clean energy, and therefore fund more clean energy sources. Local power companies are affected by the support of politically active voters and participants in political districts. Individuals buy most of the cars, and make clean energy related decisions with each purpose. Hopefully, California can retain the waivers for its own CAFÉ standards, along with the other 12 clean energy states, including New York.
Old buildings can be retrofitted for more efficient lights and lighting controls, and more efficient air conditioning. Newer buildings can have excellent tinting and outside shades. All of these saves the building owners money in the long run.
Smog from coal burning is present in all Chinese and Indian cities and elsewhere in the world. The point of coal is that it can be readily mined and transported by trucks to plants anywhere, and coal power plants can be installed in cities without long range transmission lines. It also can be easily shipped between countries like Australian coal is to China. But the extremely high levels of smog in these cities causes severe health problems, and public pressure is forcing their government to make cleaner coal plants and switch to natural gas or nuclear or renewable power. A WHO report said that 98% of large cities in poor or medium developed countries have high smog levels.
My understanding of the regulation cancellations is that it takes a year to become law, and that they must be replaced by new regulations. When the Democrats finally rotate in again, it will likewise take them a year to cancel Republican relations, so we are in for four or eight years of poor regulations in any case.
In the US, natural gas is rapidly replacing coal, even without government regulations, because it is cheaper, and the public has opposed new coal power plants. This will continue as long as Trump does not interfere with free enterprise, as he has with forcing companies to keep plants in the US. Since large fracking oil companies are now buying up fracking natural gas companies, their lobbying strength and administration placements can effectively lobby for natural gas over coal.
Trump is really carrying out policies against clean energy and climate science which have also been promised by many Republican candidates. Putting the blame solely on the Trump figure, is short changing other Republicans from getting their political due.