AMC Responds to Environmental Rollbacks

September 27, 2019

Policy Changes to Impact our Health and the Outdoors

It’s clear the Trump Administration is rolling back protective environmental standards and rules to support the fossil fuel industry. The New York Times recently updated the tally to a total of 84 completed and in-process rollbacks, which include the Clean Power Plan, the Methane rules for oil and gas, fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, protections for Wilderness air quality, and the Endangered Species Act provisions. It is problematic enough that this Administration seeks to weaken and undermine federal clean air rules, but now they have announced plans to prevent California and other states from protecting their own air quality.

Where will this leave our environment and our health? 

Leaking and venting of natural gas and dirtier smokestacks and tailpipes all result in more fossil fuel emissions that contribute to ozone, acid rain, haze, mercury pollution, and climate change. The impacts from these pollutants are why AMC has fought for emission controls and science-based air quality standards. We continue to fight to stop the unraveling of the federal rules that regulate the fossil fuel industry and control emissions. The progress cleaning up our environment that has taken decades to achieve should not be reversed, nor should the severity of the climate crisis be ignored.

Sign up for AMC’s online Conservation Action Network to stay up to speed on the most pressing issues and receive periodic notices to take action.

What climate actions is AMC taking?

  • Legal challenges of Trump rollbacks: AMC has joined a legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan rollback, as we think it is unlawful and harmful to our environment. We support the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act as upheld by the US Supreme Court.
  • Supporting Climate and Clean Energy policies: AMC continues to support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as the cornerstone of regional action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants along with other important state and regional energy conservation and efficiency policies. A similar regional effort called the Transportation Climate Initiative is the next step in addressing our regions carbon emissions.
  • Tracking climate trends in the mountains: AMC has been observing plants, measuring temperature and snow, and tracking other climate metrics to investigate the impacts of climate change on mountain ecosystems. Check out our newest collaboration with the New York Botanical Garden, Islands in the Sky, where we are looking back in time at plants collected and preserved.
  • Maine Woods forestry practices: AMC has designated over a third of our 75,000 acres of forest in Maine as permanent ecological reserves, where carbon will continue to accumulate through natural forest growth for a century or more.  In areas where we manage for timber production, we are harvesting less than growth, resulting in increased carbon stocking in these forests as well as long-term carbon storage in harvested wood products.
  • Tackling our organizational carbon footprint: AMC has been greening our huts and lodges for decades and in 2009 developed a specific goal to reduce our carbon footprint 80% by 2050. We are currently reviewing this plan in light of the increasing severity of climate impacts and the science-based net zero carbon goals that are necessary to avoid the most dire climate future.

Where could we lose ground if Trump’s agenda is seen through?

  • More ozone: Ozone causes respiratory distress, hospitalization, and missed school and workdays. This highly reactive oxidant harms those exercising and working outside and damages trees and other vegetation. After multiple years of declines in ozone pollution trends recently reversed direction in some cities including those in CT, NJ, NY, and PA according to the American Lung Association.
  • Uptick in acid rain: Sulfur dioxide emissions from coal could increase if Trump’s plans take hold, changing the direction of the significant progress made since enactment of the 1990 Acid Rain Program. Ecosystems are still recovering from the many decades of acidic pollution they endured, and more acidity would only delay or begin to reverse this recovery.
  • More hazy unhealthy days: Small particles impair visibility, degrading our outdoor experience from mountain peaks and scenic overlooks. Particles also cause severe health issues including cardiac disease and even death.
  • More mercury: Burning fossil fuels is largely to blame for mercury pollution in the US and in many regions around the globe. Mercury becomes entrained in foodwebs, resulting in fish consumption advisories for humans and risk to fish-eating birds and wildlife.
  • Continuing severe climate change: a warmer world will see exacerbated air pollution, increasing severe weather, unreliable snow seasons, and spread of pests and diseases.

We have too much at risk not to fight this downward spiral towards dirtier energy generation and more pollution of our air and water.  Join AMC’s Conservation Action Network to keep up with opportunities to defend clean air and water and a healthier climate!

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G. Murray

Conservation and Nature Notes blogger Georgia Murray has been AMC's Air Quality Staff Scientist since 2000. She has an M.S. degree in Earth Sciences from the University of New Hampshire and currently oversees the AMC's air quality and climate monitoring programs.