Clean Power Attack

President Trump’s attack on the Obama-era Clean Power Plan should be taken very seriously on the East End. Long Island’s hundreds of miles of bay and ocean shoreline are highly vulnerable to the increased erosion and worsened storms associated with global warming. Walking away from efforts to protect future generations, as well as the natural environment, is shortsighted, to put it mildly.

Mr. Trump’s order Tuesday, supposedly to return jobs to coal-producing parts of the country, would undo major efforts to cut carbon emissions. Industry experts say that coal country jobs are never going to be what they once were, due to mechanization and competition from less expensive natural gas. Mr. Trump’s order only complicates worldwide efforts to reduce the risk of catastrophe, essentially trading a debatable promise of renewed work for miners with climate changes that even the Pentagon considers could include famine, war, and unprecedented population shifts. 

New York’s top elected officials have protested loudly. Both Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman were quick to denounce Mr. Trump’s order this week. Both have vowed legal action. On the other hand, Representative Lee Zeldin, the East End’s voice in the House of Representatives, is likely to go along with the White House’s attempt to gut climate policy. Mr. Zeldin is ranked by the League of Conservation Voters with having among the worst records on ecological issues, including carbon emissions and offshore drilling. Because eastern Long Island is at risk from sea level rise, this puts him at odds with the region’s long-term interests.

He appears, however, to be aware of the political risks. Last fall, as his re-election campaign was at full tilt, he signed on with the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group. By itself, this means little since he previously voted for repealing the Clean Power Act and has been among President Trump’s most stalwart supporters. But we can hope.