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Vote for America’s future

As the November presidential election rapidly approaches, we are once again at a crossroads. Do we continue down President Trump’s path, or strike off in a new direction?

Most people care about health, security and economic well-being for themselves and their families. These basic needs are inseparable from the energy, public health, economic, and foreign policy of the United States. How has America fared on these issues since Trump took office?

Trump has dismantled almost 100 environmental protection rules including limits to toxic industrial emissions, regulations on water pollution from fracking, and a rule banning coal companies from dumping waste into streams (The New York Times). These rules prevented excessive pollution and protected public health. Now they’re gone.

Trump’s actions seem to stem from a denial of science and disregard for the wellbeing of the country. Not only has he ignored climate science, his refusal to heed the advice of public health officials and take simple actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 cost over 150-thousand Americans their lives.

The President also impedes efforts to develop clean energy. He clings to fossil fuels, promising that this will benefit American workers. But the promise is unfulfilled. Coal continues to decline because it is no longer cost competitive, the auto industry is hamstrung by Trump’s changes to emissions regulations, and large corporations rather than American workers are the primary beneficiaries of tax cuts and deregulation.

Fossil fuel dependence benefits industry executives while stalling America’s economic and tech development and diminishing international competitiveness. Trump’s approach is no longer viable for the United States; it looks to the past, not the future.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden recently released his updated plan for energy, climate, and infrastructure. The plan calls for a 100% renewable energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050, and a $2 trillion investment over four years. Much of this investment will be used to create jobs. The plan proposes the creation of millions of new jobs upgrading infrastructure, revitalizing the auto industry, developing sustainable agriculture, and implementing renewable energy.

In 2018, there were more than 3.26 million clean energy jobs in America, almost triple the 1.17 million fossil fuel industry jobs (Forbes). Unsubsidized wind and solar are already cost competitive or cheaper than fossil fuels across much of the country, and costs continue to decline (Lazard’s 2019 LCOE analysis). Renewables are the energy source and the labor market of the future. Biden’s plan recognizes that developing a clean energy-based economy is an opportunity to strengthen the United States.

Biden’s plan isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a step away from the disastrous policies of the Trump administration that ignore the realities of climate change, enable companies to pollute our land, air and water with impunity, keep us shackled to non-competitive energy sources and vulnerable to foreign energy suppliers, and disregard our health and economic vitality. It’s a big step away from our current course of condemning future generations to a sickened environment and an America that no longer leads.

The Biden plan presents a vision of America that fights for its citizens and takes action to meet the challenges of today and lead the world to a better tomorrow. In November, we choose what America will become.

Nick Wilson is a senior at Boston College and is studying environmental sciences.

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