Opinion: Green or Greed? The Stark Contrast Between Biden and Trump’s Environmental Policies

The image shows a person holding a globe with half of it on fire, while the other half remains in tact. Donald Trump is in the left frame, and President Biden on the right.

Picture Credit: Courier Newsroom

By Katie Blume

June 10, 2024

As summer arrives and we enjoy more time outdoors, it’s hard not to notice the huge differences in environmental policies between the two presidential candidates. Trump’s focus on fossil fuels and weakening protections has hurt states like Pennsylvania. In contrast, President Biden is investing in clean energy, environmental health, and creating green jobs, offering a hopeful vision for our planet and future.

As the heat of summer begins to roll in and we spend more time outdoors appreciating the beauty of — and the need to protect — our natural environment, it’s impossible to ignore the environmental ramifications of the stark contrast between the environmental policies of the two candidates for president this fall.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration consistently undermined environmental protections and prioritized fossil fuels, while President Joe Biden’s has shown a strong commitment to clean energy and environmental preservation. This divergence in their approaches has significant ramifications, especially for residents of Pennsylvania.

Trump’s anti-environment and anti-clean energy policies directly harmed Pennsylvanians during his first term. He repealed the Clean Power Plan, allowing coal power plants to continue polluting our air. If fully implemented, the Clean Power Plan would have prevented an estimated 4,500 premature deaths per year, resulting in over $50 billion in health savings annually in 2030.

In 2020, Pennsylvania ranked ninth in the U.S. in coal ash production. As one of the nation’s top coal ash-generating states, we have 70 coal ash dump sites. In 2019, the Trump administration released a series of proposed changes, loosening regulations of coal-powered plants and the disposal of coal ash, which threatens drinking water quality.

From 2011 to 2017, seven of the highest-polluting states, including Pennsylvania, successfully reduced mercury emissions by more than 2,000 pounds. Despite these improvements, the Trump administration rolled back limits on the amount of mercury and other toxic emissions allowed from power plants, threatening the health of Pennsylvanians.

Trump’s record speaks for itself: he’s not a champion of the environment. He’s a friend to Big Oil and Gas, handing them $25 billion in tax breaks. President Biden, on the other hand, called for higher taxes on the rich when he visited his hometown of Scranton last week. “When I look at the economy, I don’t look at it through the eyes of Mar-a-Lago,” Biden said. “I look at it through the eyes of Scranton.”

Biden, who has spent his first term investing in protecting our environment and our health, has the strongest environmental policies of any president the United States has ever seen. His administration just announced the first-ever national drinking water standard for PFAS, the “forever chemicals” that have been linked to higher rates of cancer, lower birth weights, reduced fertility, and high cholesterol.

President Biden is also investing in clean energy jobs and training, investments that will also pay off in the long run by reducing emissions and asthma attacks. New clean energy projects have already spurred $875.1 million in investment and helped create or advance 1,582 good-paying clean energy jobs in our state. His clean energy plan will further lower the cost of clean energy in the state, reducing the costs of solar and wind power by 24% and 34%, respectively.

Biden’s clean energy plan is expected to bring $270 million of new investment in large-scale clean power generation and storage to Pennsylvania by 2030. It’s also helping Pennsylvanians save money. New rebates of 50 to 100% on new energy-efficient electric appliances will help Pennsylvania families save on their energy bills.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, families who install an efficient electric heat pump for heating and cooling can receive a tax credit of up to $2,000 and save an average of over $500 per year on energy bills. Families who make other energy efficiency improvements can receive tax credits worth up to $500 for doors, $600 for windows, $150 for a home energy audit, and up to 30% off the cost of new insulation—a total of up to $1,200 per year in tax credits.

Families who install rooftop solar or battery storage in their homes can save up to 30% of the cost of installation via a tax credit and save nearly $400 per year on their energy bills. These new tax credits will allow more than 610,000 Pennsylvania households to install rooftop solar panels and lower their utility bills.

In Philadelphia, the median EV driver could save $917 per year compared with the cost of driving the average new gasoline vehicle. If elected, Trump would reverse that progress, as he promised to end tax credits for U.S.-manufactured EVs when he was president.

President Biden is pro-worker, pro-union, and pro-environment. There’s a reason that he was the first sitting U.S. president to walk a picket line while Trump continually sides with billionaires and Big Oil.

Everywhere we look, we are reminded of the choice we have this November. On one side, we have the health of our planet and our clean energy economy. On the other, we have more emissions, more pollution, and more tax breaks for billionaires. It’s not much of a choice at all.


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