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Local Environmentalists Criticize Trump's Energy Policies

Matt Rourke

  Local organizations are denouncing the energy policy plan put forth by Donald Trump at a North Dakota oil and gas industry meeting Thursday afternoon.

At the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, Trump said he’d scale back "stupid" federal environmental regulations on coal, oil and gas companies in order to increase domestic energy production, according to the Bismark Tribune. Trump pledged to end U.S. involvement in the international Paris climate accord that was signed on Earth Day, and also stop funding United Nations programs to combat climate change.

The speech came more than a month after the presumptive Republican nominee for president told a crowd of supporters in Pittsburgh that he’d “bring back (their) coal industry.”

Local environmentalists condemned Trump’s comments on energy.

“Let’s be honest; coal isn’t coming back,” said Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who was recently defeated in his bid to become the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. “It’s not part of our long-term energy portfolio.”

Fetterman said he has an “ocean of sympathy” for Pennsylvania communities that are losing jobs as a result of the decline in coal production throughout the commonwealth, drawing parallels with the loss of the steel industry in his own town. But he said he thinks it’s time to pivot toward renewable energy sources.

“Part of that responsibility also involves taking care of the (coal) workers, taking care of these communities that are not going to be the winners when this transition occurs,” Fetterman said.

Fetterman was joined in criticizing Trump’s energy policy by union members from SEIU Healthcare PA and representatives of environmental advocacy group NextGen Climate. Speakers also called on U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), who is up for reelection this year, to separate himself from Trump’s energy policy proposals.

“We think the opportunity is in clean jobs and in green energy,” said Lindsay Patross, NextGen Climate’s Western Pennsylvania Political Director. “It may not be in the form of (the) dirty industry of the past, and I think any candidate that isn’t pushing for a clean energy agenda is moving us backwards.”

Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and a “con job,” though one of Trump’s companies recently cited climate change as a reason for applying to build a fortifying wall at a seaside golf course in Ireland.