Park City and Summit County will stick to environmental agenda with or without federal support
The Park Record editorial, Jan. 28-Jan. 31, 2017
January 27, 2017
The opening of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival seems to have taken place light years ago.
Former President Barack Obama had just delivered his farewell speech in which he ticked off a substantial list of environmental achievements. Among them: raising fuel efficiency standards for the auto industry, imposing tougher pollution limits on power plants, helping form a coalition to ratify the United Nation's climate agreement in Paris, stopping the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines and setting aside a handful of natural monuments, including one in Utah.
At the same time, Sundance was set to celebrate its New Climate curtain raiser on a hopeful note — a debut of former Vice President Al Gore's sequel to "An Inconvenient Truth," dubbed "Truth to Power."
Unlike the dire tone of his first film, the sequel suggests that given enough political will and public commitment, there is still time to reverse the ravages of climate change. And Gore himself was there to underscore that message with his characteristic optimism.
But a chilly draft was already wafting into the theater and putting a damper on the enthusiasm surrounding several similarly themed films at the festival. By week's end, that worrisome breeze had turned into a calamitous blizzard of controversy as the newly installed President Donald Trump started systematically dismantling Obama's hard-won environmental victories.
During his first week in office Trump has signed various executive orders and memoranda reversing Obama's decisions to halt the pipelines, streamlining the permitting process for manufacturing, freezing recent actions related to energy efficiency standards and announcing major forthcoming cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget.
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In short, Trump is preparing to give free rein to the very industries that scientists identified as the major contributors to the degradation of the environment.
So now it will be up to cities, counties, states and individual citizens to avert what scientists have been warning about for at least a decade: increasingly severe weather, air and water pollution, melting glaciers and rising seas, to name a few of the destructive consequences of climate change.
Fortunately, Park City and Summit County citizens are committed to a proactive environmental agenda. The challenge will be to stay the course and actively lobby state and federal officials without the support of the executive branch.
While they may be currently in power, there is ample evidence that Trump and his cohorts are in the minority. Our challenge is to mitigate the damage this administration may try to inflict during its last wheezing gasp of climate-change denial.