Dear Mr. President,

During your first months in office, many changes have been made. In particular, your energy plan documents an intended shift away from our previous President’s policies. In attempts to appear environmentally conscious and appeal to both sides of several issues, your administration’s energy plan is riddled with conflicting statements, inconsistencies, and paradoxes.

The energy plan emphasizes the sanctity of clean air and water while concurrently eliminating legislation that protects it. The plan claims that “protecting clean air and clean water” as well as “conserving… natural habitats” will “remain a high priority.” While this goal is certainly enterprising, the measures detailed in your plan will prevent this ambition from becoming a reality. Such measures cannot be reconciled with anti-pollution ideals. The first contradiction is your plans to eliminate both the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. The Climate Action Plan advocated cutting carbon emissions, preparing for impacts of climate change, and leading international efforts to address climate change. If  you, Mr. President, really believed clean air was a “high priority,” you would not plan to remove legislation that reduced carbon emissions and air pollution. If clean water was truly a high priority, the Clean Water Rule, which increased and strictly defined protected water, would not be removed.

Another inconsistency which proves that clean air and water are not priorities to you and your administration is the energy plan’s aim to “revive the coal industry.” Burning coal will increase pollution and render protecting air and water quality much harder. Almost 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by power generation. Boosting the use of coal would only increase the volume of greenhouse gas emissions, and would increase smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution. Air quality will be harmed by a revival of the coal industry, and cannot be accomplished with the current paradoxical energy plan.

Your plan is somewhat of a paradox, as it advocates further expansion of both natural gas and coal. The energy plan details plans of simultaneously resurrecting the coal industry, tapping natural gas reserves, and shifting towards “less expensive energy.” Ironically, coal declined because it was unable to compete with the cheaper prices of natural gas. If we maximize natural gas reserves, the quantity of natural gas would only increase and drive the cost of gas down further. Not only would coal be pitted against a cheaper alternative, but your commitment to “clean coal technology” would only increase the cost of coal and further widen the price gap. Coal would be in even less demand, crippling the industry further.

The final large incongruity in this energy plan lies in its statements on OPEC. The energy plan illustrates commitment to “achieving energy independence from the OPEC cartel.” However, the U.S. does not currently rely on OPEC for oil. In fact, most of our foreign oil comes from Canada and Latin America and only 12.9% is imported from the Persian Gulf. Independence from OPEC has already been achieved. You wish to achieve independence from OPEC, which has already happened, while simultaneously maintaining a “positive energy relationship” with these Gulf countries.  This reeks of contradiction. We cannot embargo OPEC oil and also maintain a positive energy relationship with members of OPEC.

There are many inconsistencies in this plan. Instead of attempting to appear environmentally conscious, be honest and real about your plans for this country. It is impossible to play both sides of this issue. You either stand with the environment– or against it. You either stand for the success of a dying and harmful industry– or you stand for cheaper energy. You either stand for an embargo on foreign oil– or you stand for maintaining positive energy relationships for the sake of national security. The Energy Plan begs us to recognize that “we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America”. Although the plan is referring to untapped coal, oil, shale, and natural gas, this statement also applies to renewable energy sources. We have the potential and opportunity to generate energy without causing an abrasive environmental impact. Instead of burning coal, we can utilize hydroelectric, wind, solar, biofuels, and geothermal power. I firmly believe that you can do what is best for this country, its people, and its future.

Sincerely,

Sarah Baldino

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