Monday, February 10, 2020

Trump's Doing it Again This Time with Funds Earmarked for Climate Mitigation

U.S. President Donald Trump is up to his old tricks again except this time instead of military aid he is withholding funds for climate action. According to recent reports Trump is sitting on almost a billion dollars earmarked for renewables, electric vehicles and energy efficiency. This comes only a couple of days after Republicans in the Senate acquitted him, completely ignoring clear evidence of efforts to meddle in the presidential election later this year. They did not dispute the fact that the commander-and-chief withheld Ukrainian aid to secure political favors, on the contrary they argued that it is perfectly acceptable if the president believes his reelection is in the national interest.

Except for Mitt Romney, Republicans defended Trump. Some said he was chastened by his impeachment in the House.  However, it is those who worried that he would be emboldened that have been vindicated. On the day that Mueller released his report Trump made the infamous call to the president of the Ukraine.  Within days of escaping conviction at the hands of his feckless minions in the Senate, Trump withheld $823 million in public money for the very line items his administration has been trying to kill for years. The most recent White House budget had sought to slash financial support for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (OEERE) within the US Department of Energy. In both 2018 and 2019 Trump's budgets have proposed cutting funding for climate action.  The Trump administration has been hostile to renewable energy, and they have actively fought against cleaner cars.  This is an administration that has an insane energy agenda that is defined by a policy of energy inefficiency

Like the Ukrainian aid, Trump is withholding congressional budget items over which the executive has no authority. Democrats on the House Science Committee are holding a joint subcommittee hearing on the topic. Republicans on the committee are once again trying to paper-over Trump's misdeeds. They are saying there is nothing to see here in much the same way they dismissed his now infamous call. "It’s business as usual," said Representative Ralph Norman, of South Carolina.

In the first instance Trump withheld aid to blackmail Ukraine into digging up dirt on his political opponent. So what is Trump up to this time? To answer this question we have to understand that the Trump administration swamp is awash with oil industry executives. Their are vast sums of money at play. The Trump administration gives 10x more to the fossil fuel industry than it does to education.

Trump was acquitted by Republicans even thought they refused to call witnesses. GOP Senators did not even bother to stage a mock trial, they flagrantly covered up for the president and whitewashed his attempt to use much need military aid for personal political gain.  So what is motivating Republicans? If you follow the money trail, you will find that it leads straight to the dirty energy industry.

Withholding aid to Ukraine threatened the national security of an ally, withholding money for climate mitigation is a threat to life on the planet. In a move reminiscent of the Ukraine scandal, Trump appears to be capitulating now that he has been caught. When the news broke that Trump was trying to pressure the Ukrainian president, the funds were suddenly forthcoming. Similarly, now that Democrats are holding hearings, the $126 million earmarked for climate mitigation has suddenly been made available. This is either another incredible coincidence or the latest demonstration of this president's turpitude.

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