The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in California

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Just in the past three years, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back at least 95 environmental rules and regulations to the detriment of the environment and Americans’ public health. Moreover, the administration refuses to act to mitigate the effects of climate change—instead loosening requirements for polluters emitting the greenhouse gases that fuel the climate crisis. This dangerous agenda is affecting the lives of Americans across all 50 states.

Between 2017 and 2019, California experienced three wildfires, one drought, one flood, and one severe storm. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

Impacts of climate change

Extreme weather

  • Five of the 10 largest wildfires in California’s history have occurred since 2010.
  • In 2018, wildfire costs in California reached nearly $24 billion—a new record in the United States.
  • At $16.5 billion, the 2018 California Camp Fire was the world’s costliest natural disaster of the year, burning roughly 153,000 acres and 14,000 residences.
  • California experienced 10 years of drought between 2000 and 2019.
  • California’s sea level has risen 6 inches since 1950, and forecasts project that by 2033, the sea level will have risen another 6 inches. California is preparing to spend more than $6 billion on solutions for sea level rise.

Temperature

  • California currently experiences 35 days of dangerous heat per year, but projections indicate that number will increase to 50 such days per year by 2050. This endangers the lives of the more than 1 million Californians who are especially vulnerable to extreme heat.
  • Riverside, California, is the fourth-fastest-warming city in the United States.

Impacts of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies

Climate

  • In March 2020, the Trump administration announced its final rule to overturn Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars. These weakened fuel standards will lead to higher greenhouse gas and particulate matter emissions and will cost Californians more than $4 billion
  • The Trump administration is attempting to gut climate considerations from major infrastructure projects by eliminating the “cumulative impact” requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act. This is concerning because California’s economy relies heavily on its tourism, agriculture, and outdoor recreation industries—all of which are highly dependent on climate and weather conditions.
    • Tourism: In 2018, California’s tourism sector employed nearly 2 million people, and direct travel spending was more than $140 billion.
    • Agriculture: In 2015 California’s agricultural industry generated more than $47 billion in revenue for the state and in 2018 supplied more than 400,000 jobs.
    • Outdoor recreation: The outdoor recreation industry in California generates nearly 700,000 direct jobs and more than $92 billion in consumer spending.

Air quality

  • Mercury emissions in California decreased by 100 percent from 2011 to 2017, yet the Trump administration just undermined limits on the amount of mercury and other toxic emissions that are allowed from power plants.

To read the personal stories of Americans affected by climate change and the impacts of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies in your state, visit OurEnvironment.org.