Late last week, WildEarth Guardians took dead aim on President Trump’s blatant denial of climate science.
In a brief filed in federal court in Wyoming, we targeted Trump’s withdrawal of climate protections adopted under the Obama Administration. The brief was filed as part of an ongoing lawsuit over expanded mining at Arch Coal’s Black Thunder mine. One of the largest coal mines in the world, the Black Thunder mine alone is the root cause of around 2% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. There is no other single facility in the nation that is responsible for so much climate pollution.
Our brief confronted head on President Trump’s attempt to deny that climate change presents any costs to our world. In an Executive Order signed at the end of March, the President withdrew a series of reports detailing what’s described as the “social cost of carbon.”
The social cost of carbon is a straightforward metric that assigns a dollar figure to the cost of a ton of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. It’s based on the fact that greenhouse gas emissions fuel climate change and that climate change presents enormous costs to our society.
Whether it’s rising sea levels, extreme weather, drought, flooding, or increased air pollution, the social cost of carbon reflects the fact that whenever climate pollution is released, we pay. Conversely, whenever climate pollution is reduced, we save. This is a fact. It’s reality. It’s truth. It’s undeniable.
Our lawsuit challenges the failure of the federal government to account for climate costs before approving a massive expansion of the Black Thunder mine. And as we pointed out, simply because Trump has attempted to withdraw scientific reports detailing the social cost of carbon, doesn’t mean the reality of climate costs goes away.
If you’re curious about the social cost of carbon reports that Trump has attempted to withdraw, rest assured, they still exist and they still represent valid real-life scientific information (you can access the withdrawn reports here).
While Trump may deny climate change, it doesn’t change reality. That reality is that for the sake our economic well-being, we have to keep coal in the ground.