According to the White House, President Trump plans to give a Rose Garden address today to “recognize his administration’s environmental leadership and America’s role in leading the world.” The White House apparently reached out to its supporters last Wednesday, and according to The Guardian, in an off-the-record conference requested that the supporters “spread the message that the U.S. under Trump continues to be an environmental leader.” The U.S. currently ranks 27th in the world for its environmental performance — behind most other western industrialized nations.
Why This Matters: The Trump Administration has taken an aggressively anti-conservation posture since its first days in office. The President filled his cabinet with leaders from industry who have systematically repealed and rolled back more than 50 years of conservation progress — with more than 80 rules protecting the public’s health and the environment rolled back, protections on public lands and waters and endangered species lifted, and enforcement of environmental laws at an all-time low. It has never been a better time to be a fossil fuel industry or polluter in the last fifty years. Any successes the President “claims” later today are the result of the work of environmental laws and standards that his administration openly disregards. He may try to “have it both ways,” but it is simply not true that the U.S. has crystal clean air and water today, nor can he say that his Administration has contributed to U.S. environmental successes.
The Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Record
Let’s review what this Administration has done and un-done on conservation and the environment.
- Clean Air and Water Regulations – Rolled back 80 environmental rules, including the Obama Administration’s “Clean Power Plan” to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants, the “Clean Car Rule” to increase fuel efficiency and reduce pollution from autos and trucks, the “Waters of the United States” Rule that defined what water bodies were subject to the Clean Water Act.
- Oil and Gas Development and Mining – Leased huge swaths of federal land for oil, gas and mining development; preparing for leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in the Arctic Ocean and the coastal U.S. ocean as well as lowering safety standards for that drilling; preparing approvals for Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay, Alaska and near the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area in Minnesota; allowed states with lower standards to regulate the dumping of toxic coal ash waste instead of the federal government; loosens financial responsibility requirements for hard rock mining companies so that they cannot shirk cleanup responsibilities; loosened the standards allowing the increased “flaring” of methane gas; and speeding the permitting of oil and gas pipelines.
- Toxics and Pesticides – Lowering standards and limiting scientific or de-funding research on toxic air pollutants like mercury, on the impact of toxins and pollutants on children; refusing to regulate toxic pesticides; failed to ban the spraying of pesticides near schools:
- Endangered Species and their Habitat – Loosening the key provisions of the law protecting species from extinction including rules slowing government actions that could harm at-risk species, changing the requirements to set aside habitat critical to the continued existence of at-risk species, only protecting species that have just been listed as threatened with extinction on a case-by-case basis, as well as allowing the importation of “trophies” of endangered species such as lions, giraffes, and elephants into the U.S. by big game hunters who “bag” them in other countries.
- Climate Change – Defunded climate science, placed tariffs on the imported solar panels, proposed loosening energy conservation standards for light bulbs and other common consumer products and removed the U.S. as a signatory to the Paris Climate Accord.
- Enforcement – Reduced the number of environmental inspections to its lowest number since 2001, and referred the fewest environmental enforcement cases to the Department of Justice.