Across the Midwest, clean energy advocates will go to work today like they would on any other Monday.
They’ll engage with legislators, regulators and utilities on policies to advance wind, solar and energy efficiency and curtail emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that affect the environment and public health.
Moving forward, of course, there is one obvious change. While green groups generally had backing from the White House over the last eight years, they now face a brisk headwind with Friday’s inauguration of President Trump.
Within minutes of taking the oath of office, the incoming administration scrubbed references to climate change from the White House web site and posted an energy policy summary that outlined plans to eliminate “harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan.”
Clean energy advocates across the Midwest said the reversal in policy at the executive branch cannot overcome trends that are increasingly steering utilities away from coal and to cleaner sources of energy.
Solar panels are a fraction of their cost only a few years ago. Utilities and corporations are continuing to add thousands of megawatts of new wind generation across the Midwest. Energy demand is declining, or at least flat-lining even as local economies grow. And emissions are falling and aging coal plants are retiring.
“There’s a market transformation that’s going on that’s being driven by smart policies combined with technological improvements,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Midwest environmental advocacy group.