Greens prepare for battle with Trump
Environmental groups are shifting into battle mode, preparing for inevitable policy fights with President-elect Donald Trump, his administration and the next GOP Congress.
The leaders of the largest U.S. green groups told reporters Wednesday that it is a disappointing day for the country and the world after Trump’s stunning election. But they say they have little time to wallow. Instead, they’re digging up strategies from other fights with Republicans, including those with former President George W. Bush and congressional Republicans of the 1990s.
“We are girding for a fight, wherever it may come, in the courts, in the Congress, through the executive branch,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said.
“President-elect Trump must choose whether he will be a president remembered for putting America and the world back on the path toward climate disaster; or listening to the American public, investing in a growing sector of the U.S. economy, the clean energy sector, and putting us on a path to climate progress,” he said. “Trump must choose wisely, otherwise, we can guarantee him the hardest fight of his political life.”
League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said the coming years will represent a multi-front war, including in all three federal branches of government and direct communication with voters.
“We’ll be in the Congress, in the courts, in the boardrooms, in the streets, organizing the broad public that supports action on climate change,” Karpinski said.
Brune and Karpinski sized up the next four or eight years of green lobbying Wednesday along with the heads of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s NRDC Action Fund, NextGen Climate Action and Environment America.
Each of the groups backed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president, and with Clinton ahead in polls leading up to Tuesday night, they were planning to celebrate a strong continuation of President Obama’s ecologically friendly agenda.
Instead, the environmental movement is feeling gut-punched.
“Trump’s election is a disaster, but we must channel our anger and fear into hope and resolve,” May Boeve, executive director of 350 Action, said in a statement. “Our work becomes much harder now, but it’s not impossible, and we refuse to give up.”
Trump has promised to roll back Obama’s entire climate agenda and many of his environmental rules, including the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Rule. He also plans to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, among other moves.
To a certain extent, the green groups are heeding Clinton’s call to give Trump a chance to govern responsibly, although they admit that they are not putting too much faith in him.
“We’re going to follow Secretary Clinton’s advice: approach this with an open mind,” said Kevin Curtis, executive director of NRDC Action Fund.
But greens are also striking a slightly optimistic tone, betting that they may be able to move the country further on climate change, which they say is necessary to stop the worst effects of global warming.
“It’s not enough to just defend against any rollbacks, we have to accelerate the progress right now if we’re going to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement,” said Anna Aurilio, director of Environment America’s Washington, D.C., office.