In the iconic 1987 movie Wall Street slick-backed hair corporate raider and trader Gordon Gekko – a smooth, ambitious, egotistical, manipulative, ruthless operator played by Michael Douglass – unapologetically tells a group of stockholders:
“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”
I tend to believe that greed is the rational operative word for lots of Big Ag and Big Oil corporations. Greed. The excessive continuous desire for money or any possession no matter what the cost. No matter who is hurt.
Greed, the green light approval of the White House, and the enabling by the Environmental Protection Agency is why our planet could be on a collision course with an uncertain future that could end up with humanity’s slow and painful extinction through climate change.
In the last three and a half years the White House-backed Environmental Protection Agency has done terrible things that threaten to reshape our planet’s weather patterns forever. And with less than six months before the November election there is a mad dash at the EPA to undo everything President Obama worked on to limit the impact of climate change.
What’s behind it if not greed? The greed of Big Oil companies in particular who are working hand in hand with the POTUS and his minions to ensure the money keeps flowing and growing.
Here are just a few of the more outrageous policies pushed through by EPA that have could have dire consequences for our planet.
Car and Truck Emission Standards. The EPA is rolling back Obama-era standards that would have increased fuel efficiency by 5 percent a year between 2021 and 2026 in favor of 1.5 percent improvement over the same time period. It’s been estimated the change means roughly a billion tons more heat-trapping carbon dioxide will be spewed into the atmosphere. As an aside, the EPA may have broken a number of laws in the process. Big Oil obviously benefits. More oil burned is more money for shareholders.
Power Plants. The EPA finalized a rule that terminated an Obama-era regulation that would have required power plants to cut carbon emissions by more than a third from 2005 to 2030. The rule would have likely forced utilities to seek out clean fuel solutions like wind, solar and natural gas and drop/reduce coal usage. A real boon to fight climate change. The EPA’s new rule lets states “develop performance standards for power plants to boost the amount of power produced relative to the amount of coal burned.” Does anyone believe in major coal producing states there will be major coal reductions? Me neither.
Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change accord. The EPA cut Obama’s ties with the historic Paris Climate Change accord which seeks to limit global temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius this century by slashing CO2 emissions. The U-S withdrawal formally takes place on November 4, the day after the fall elections.
Light Bulbs. The EPA axed an Obama-era rule that would have this January doubled the number of light bulbs subject to energy-efficiency standards. The net effect is more energy burned and more CO2 headed into the atmosphere.
Are you beginning to get the picture?
All this is just the tip of the iceberg. The New York Times counted them up based on research from Harvard and Columbia law schools and found more than 60 rollbacks and another 34 pending.
Right now the EPA is trying to eliminate Obama-era restrictions that would require new coal power plants to capture CO2 emissions, proposed opening more land in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve for oil drilling, and opened a comment period in the Federal Register on a rule that would limit the public’s ability to challenge EPA pollution permits before the agencies’ judges.
And so the question must be asked. Is the planet headed down a path where the slashing of regulations on methane and greenhouse gas emissions, the dumbing down of coal plant regulations, the desire to significantly increase offshore drilling and fracking and the willingness to toss aside the Paris Accord result in long-term irreversible impacts on our climate?
Did one-hit wonders Zager and Evans get it right with their 1968 chart-topper In the Year 2525? Will the final verse be prophetic?
In the year 9595
I’m kinda wonderin’, if man is gonna be alive
He’s taken everything this old Earth can give
And he ain’t put back nothing Whoa-oh-oh.
About Dave Dickey
Dickey spent nearly 30 years at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s NPR member station WILL-AM 580 where he won a dozen Associated Press awards for his reporting. For 13 years, he directed Illinois Public Media’s agriculture programming. His weekly column for the Midwest Center covers agriculture and related issues including politics, government, environment and labor. His opinions are his own and do not reflect the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Email him at email@example.com.