Despite ongoing denial of climate change and the risks of air pollution by certain politicians, environmental regulation has been essential for states and cities to protect public health. But expanding fossil fuel extraction and weakening environmental regulations the core of President-elect Donald Trump's approach to environmental policy would be disastrous for the communities that house energy infrastructure.
If fulfilled, Trump's campaign promises to scrap the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement would be catastrophic for Utah and the Southwest, which is already suffering hotter temperatures, relentless drought, more dust storms and wildfires and decimated forests and rangeland. Indeed, climate change is expected to afflict the Great Basin with the greatest temperature rise in the United States.
When we look back at the landscape of Utah years from now, we hope it is not a picture of bounty and beauty lost. Utah's economy and the health of its people, particularly children, are already threatened by fossil fuel industries. Our economies are subject to the boom and bust cycle of fossil fuels many of which are in permanent decline. Counties such as Duchesne and Uintah face the loss of jobs, income and tax revenue to fund critical services. With fossil fuel prices falling, a surplus of supply and a global shift toward renewable energy, these communities are hurting. Tying their economic future to a 19th century fuel source is shortsighted.