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Rolling Back Climate-Change Initiatives: A Threat to National Security?

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A warming climate and rising sea levels already are affecting U.S. military bases. (Robert J. Sitar, USN/Wikimedia Commons)
A warming climate and rising sea levels already are affecting U.S. military bases. (Robert J. Sitar, USN/Wikimedia Commons)
 By Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA - Producer, Contact
April 5, 2017

PHILADELPHIA - National security experts say President Trump's actions to roll back or eliminate programs to slow global climate change will put the country in danger.

According to retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, chief executive of the American Security Project, climate change already is destabilizing volatile regions such as the Middle East and threatening U.S. military bases as sea levels rise. He said the president's statement that the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan would do irreparable harm to the nation simply is not true.

"We feel strongly that the Clean Power Plan was a good idea, that we need to be transitioning over to renewable energies," he said. "We need to get off of fossil fuels, in particular coal."

The administration has claimed that climate regulations cost jobs and hinder growth, but Cheney notes that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is among those who believe climate change is manmade and a threat to stability and is likely to include it in his national-security plans.

President Trump has said his executive orders will put coal miners back to work, but Welton Chang, who heads the Philadelphia chapter of the Truman National Security Project, noted that the orders repeal rules intended to make coal companies bear the cost of the health consequences of coal mining.

"It's a transfer of money from coal miners' pockets to coal executives' pockets," he said. "That's not bringing jobs back; that's actually trying to boost the plutocracy in our country."

Chang said he thinks rolling back climate-change initiatives sends a message to the world that the United States is more concerned with short-term gain than the long-term safety of the world's population.

Cheney said economics, not public policy, are behind the decline in coal use. He's convinced the future lies in developing clean, renewable energy.

"You'd think that would appeal to the Trump administration," he said. "Hey, these are business guys, it's cheaper to have solar power and wind power. Why wouldn't we do that instead of coal? So, that's what's going to drive coal out of business."

More information is online at americansecurityproject.org.

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