October 8th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
I just watched most of the US vice presidential debate. There were several gigantic lies that Vice President Mike Pence pushed out, sometimes repeatedly, and I found it extremely frustrating that the moderator didn’t have any system in place for fact checking straight lies, that Senator Kamala Harris didn’t correct several of these lies when she had the chance to do so, and that Harris didn’t have the chance to correct several others because Pence routinely ran far over his time and interrupted her as she began to speak.
However, we don’t cover a broad range of topics here on CleanTechnica, so I won’t spend much time explaining why it’s a straight lie to claim that Obama/Biden didn’t do more to help the American economy than Trump/Pence. (The US economy grew more in the last 3 years of the Obama/Biden presidency than it grew in the first 3 years of the Trump/Pence presidency, as shown by Forbes, Forbes again, Snopes, and many others — one chart below. And that’s even before COVID-19 and the president’s horrible response to COVID-19 destroyed the economy!)
While I follow that topic and others that Pence lied about very closely, they are not CleanTechnica topics, so I’ll just jump to those.
Donald Trump Administration Has Crushed & Demolished Clean Air, Clean Water, & Climate Protection
The Donald Trump administration has cut the knees off of numerous policies and programs aimed at protecting our air, water, and climate — even policies and programs supported by previous Republicans all the way back to Richard Nixon! The administration has attacked the Clean Air Act in several ways that no previous administration ever has.
The administration has also heartlessly and illogically given some of our public lands to the oil & gas industry and cut various public land protections. Mike Pence somehow tried to claim that Trump was doing great things for public lands — which was just a mind-blowing claim. That’s the opposite of the truth. For more on this topic, see:
On the topic of air quality, one more claim jumped out at me. Pence argued that US air was cleaner under Trump than ever before in American history. I have no idea what stat/source he is referencing, but there are two things that come to mind here:
- The country shut down for months this year, which led to much cleaner air in many places because people weren’t driving and less energy was being used. So, yes, pollution was down and air quality was better, but that’s because almost everyone was sitting at home.
- Renewable energy has been growing for many years due to constantly falling costs, and that was the case again in recent years — though, renewable energy’s growth has shrunk under Trump. As I reported recently, coal has dropped to 17.7% of US electricity production this year, which is down from 33% in 2015, 39% in 2014, 45% in 2010, and 50% in 2005, but that is not because of Trump at all, and Trump actually claimed he was going to save the coal industry and presumably tried to do so a bit by putting a coal lobbyist in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but he has been unable to do so (and also has done nothing to help coal workers out of a job find new jobs, sometimes Clinton promised to do while being realistic and saying that the coal industry was on the way out).
Overall, Michael Barnard produced a thorough analysis of Obama/Biden versus Trump/Pence versus Biden/Harris on these matters and more for CleanTechnica, so I strongly recommend you check that out.
This was an odd topic. The US public doesn’t support gas fracking, but some states have large fracking industries (including the large swing state of Pennsylvania as well as Texas, which may now or soon be a swing state). Nonetheless, Pence focused a lot of time claiming that Joe Biden would ban fracking in the United States. That’s simply not true, though, as Biden has clearly stated that he wouldn’t ban fracking. Pence was either uninformed or repeatedly lying. I think he was just uninformed here, but who knows?
Biden has said he’s not going to give further support to new fracking, which is clearly good since we shouldn’t be subsidizing a dirty industry when we have cleaner and cheaper renewable energy options. But that’s not the same thing as banning fracking, not even close.
Paris Climate Agreement
Pence didn’t lie about Biden’s plan to bring the US back into the Paris climate agreement. However, again, it’s a stupid and potentially insane thing to be opposed to rejoining the agreement. Indeed, 198 countries all around the world signed onto this agreement. The only two countries that didn’t do so are Turkey and Iran. And Trump and Pence are trying to make the USA the 3rd country to not be onboard with the agreement. Talk about being on the wrong side of history!
Just to be extra clear about it, 198 countries — almost every country in the world — agreed to the Paris climate agreement. Trump and Pence want the US to join 2 other countries, Iran and Turkey, in not agreeing to the accords. And Pence somehow thought that was a good topic to focus on.
We have seen consistently now that there are several issues in which Trump and Pence are on the side of the small minority rather than the vast majority of Americans. This is the case on many environmental and energy matters, and it seems like their response is to just lie about these matters and lie about Biden and Harris.
This probably should not have surprised me. Trump and the Republicans repeatedly tried to take away health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions through Congress, stopped at the last minute once by John McCain, just before his death. Since they haven’t been able to get the repeal of the Affordable Care Act through Congress, they’ve shifted to a legal battle. The Trump administration is actually in court now trying to take insurance away from people with pre-existing conditions, via a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. But do you know what ad I saw on YouTube today? I saw an ad claiming that Trump was going to protect health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, which struck me as something that should be pulled for illegality since Trump’s team is in court trying to do the exact opposite of what the ad claimed.
In other words, it is clear by now that the Trump and Pence campaign lie incessantly. They lie about the economy. They lie about COVID-19. They lie about Trump’s taxes. They lie about health care and health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. They lie about Social Security. And they lie about the environment. I should not be surprised in the least.
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