The new leader of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Neil Chatterjee, says that in order to protect America’s national security interests, we have to keep depending on coal. Apparently this man – or anyone within the Trump administration – has read all of the national security briefings, studies, and documents that show that reliance on fossil fuels is actually creating a huge national security risk for the United States. If the Trump administration actually cared about national security, they’d end our addiction to fossil fuels immediately. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.


One of my favorite moments from the 2016 presidential election campaign, whatever, actually occurred during the primaries in 2015 at the very first democratic debate that happened to be the debate where we still have lots or several candidates on stage. The very first question they were asked, every candidate on that stage, “What is the single greatest threat to US national security?” Person after person gave the same response. ISIS, Islamic terrorism.

There’s only one person who said catastrophic climate change is the greatest threat to national security. That person just happens to be Bernie Sanders. Do you know why Bernie Sanders gave that response? He wasn’t trying to pander to tree huggers. No, he actually understands what the Pentagon has been saying since literally the 1980s, and that is, at least since 2006, that climate change and the threats posed by climate change are the greatest national security threat to the United States. 11 years running, our greatest threat to our own borders is climate change.

In spite of that knowledge, again, Ronald Reagan received reports from the Pentagon in the ’80s showing that climate change could eventually pose a national security risk to the United States. George H. W. Bush got the same information, so did Clinton, so did W. Bush, again, 2006 became the greatest national security threat. Obama did, and you can bet that Donald Trump understands that as well, but he chooses to not believe it.

Having said that, Donald Trump’s new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman, Neil Chatterjee, told people earlier this week that in order for us to ensure national security here in the United States, we have to continue burning coal as a fuel source. Unfortunately, Chatterjee was not too chatty about the specifics on how burning coal increases our national security, but he did say that this is what we have to do because somehow burning coal is related to national security, because I guess it keeps us more nationally secure in Chatterjee’s warped brain.

Here’s the reality, folks. Majority of people on this planet live near the coast, live within that floodplain of rising sea levels. In 50 years, 100 years maybe, some of us will be gone, some of us might still be here. The United States, and we’re already seeing this today, too, the United States is going to be experiencing a refugee crisis like we have never seen. Not just the United States either. Every country on the planet. As those people who lived on the coast understand that the coast is gone, they have to move inland. They have to move to a new country. They have to leave. They are climate refugees at this point. Again, we’re already seeing them today.

What happens when they leave those areas? Other areas become more populated. What happens when there’s higher populations? There is resource scarcity. Resource scarcity always breeds conflict. That is what our national security advisers, the folks at the Pentagon, the folks in the military have been warning us about for decades, and yet Donald Trump’s administration, this guy he appointed, Neil Chatterjee, choose instead to turn a blind eye to climate change and say that if we want to be secure, we got to burn coal because that makes sense.

Climate change is the only issue that we cannot undo with Donald Trump. Things like his destruction of education, destruction of the economy, Medicaid, Trumpcare, tax cuts for the rich, those hurt, they’re bad, they cause bad things in this country, but they can be undone and repaired given time. Climate change isn’t like that, folks. Once those sea levels rise and that coastline is gone and starts shrinking and goes further inland, it’s gone. We can’t undo that with a democratic president getting elected in 2020. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

Those emissions were spewing out. When they’re up there, they’re up there. We can’t undo the damage, and that is why of all the issues, we have to take this one the most serious, because we can’t fix it. All we can do is stop it from getting worse, but we’re not even doing that. We’re ignoring it. We can fix all of the other damage Trump has done. It’s going to be painful and it’s going to suck, but when it comes to climate change, every month, every week, every day without action, we’re causing irreparable damage that no matter how many years of democratic rule we have, we will never be able to undo.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced