The Attitude of Trump’s Administration Towards Environmentalism

[Prelude: I understand this following article contains an obvious bias towards a more Leftist and Environmentalist standing. Please understand it is not my intent to be outwardly hostile to Right Wing followers and advocates. To show for this, I include a variety of sources of Left, Center and Right leanings, all of which have been cited in text as well as links to the specific sites and articles included at the end. What I intend to do is an simply create an observation of Trump’s team and their actions that endanger the environment. I am not and never will apologize for my Libertarian-Leftist or ecological beliefs. Thank you. — Jay Burton, Independent Amateur Eco Journalist and former Writer for United Green Alliance.]

At the time of writing this article, President Trump has been in office for 1 year and 96 days. Within this relatively short amount of time the Trump administration began pulling from the Paris Agreement; proposed over a 20% cut for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) funding; approved the Keystone XL pipeline as well as recently issued a presidential message in regards to Environmental Regulations, according to CNN.

From the White House’s official website, the Presidental Message reads as follows:

“Today, our Nation commemorates Earth Day, a celebration of the blessings given to us by our Creator. Among them, we cherish our magnificent land and waterways, abundant natural resources, and unique wildlife. As a Nation, it is our duty to recognize the importance of these life-sustaining gifts, and it is our responsibility to protect them for our own benefit and that of generations to come.
A healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. We know that it is impossible for humans to flourish without clean air, land, and water. We also know that a strong, market-driven economy is essential to protecting these resources. For this reason, my Administration is dedicated to removing unnecessary and harmful regulations that restrain economic growth and make it more difficult for local communities to prosper and to choose the best solutions for their environment. Already, we are making great economic progress in concert with — not in opposition to — protecting our environment.
Americans embrace the idea of enjoying nature in a responsible fashion, while preserving the blessings of the land for future generations. My Administration is committed to furthering this rich legacy of conservation.
This Earth Day, I hope all Americans will give thanks for the environment we share, protect, and call home.”

This message, to some sparks a sense of national identity in regards to our ecosystems, others found themselves outraged. Breaking down this presidential message, it is easy to see why many are angry.

“Among them, we cherish our magnificent land and waterways, abundant natural resources, and unique wildlife.”

A beautiful statement indeed. However, recent legislative history by the POTUS seems to conflict with the message at hand. Our land is in danger, backed up by Trump’s decision to shrink Bear Ear and Grand-Staircase Escalante. Both are National Monuments. Bear Ear’s land was heavily hit, going from 1.35 million acres to roughly 228,337. Grand-Staircase Escalante went from 1.9 million acres to just around 1 million. By shrinking these monuments, it opens up the land for deforestation and oil / natural gas obtainment. In regards to the waterways of USA, they too face uncertain fates. The Keystone pipeline, given permission to be expanded on in the XL Pipeline has in the past caused unruly damage, in which it leaked 210,000 gallons in November 2017, as reported by FOX. Not only does the Keystone XL and Keystone Pipeline bring notorious history, so does the Dakota Access Pipeline. This pipeline, which to some, violated Indigenous peoples’ rights and treaties, would put their local water supply in danger. All of this comes from CNN.

Now, the wildlife. According to the EPA’s website, over 1,3000 animals are considered Threatened or Endangered in the United States alone. In October of 2017, Trump announced 25 species did not qualify for protection, which comes from the Endangered Species Act, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

“A healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. We know that it is impossible for humans to flourish without clean air, land, and water. We also know that a strong, market-driven economy is essential to protecting these resources. For this reason, my Administration is dedicated to removing unnecessary and harmful regulations that restrain economic growth and make it more difficult for local communities to prosper and to choose the best solutions for their environment. Already, we are making great economic progress in concert with — not in opposition to — protecting our environment.”

The first half of this statement, like before, shows a considerable sense of care for our Earth, but again crumbles, given the later comments. Laissez-faire capitalism and business operations have never proven to help the environment. Only once the EPA was established were businesses held accountable for Carbon Emissions, unethical deforestation and oil spills. However, companies don’t necessarily need to be punished for mistakes. Instead, looking to benefit companies who seek new solutions to the global economy AND environmentalism is the solution. Sadly, Trump doesn’t seek to do this, instead, he seeks to begin to loosen the economy in terms of environmental regulations. How can a local business succeed when larger companies (who took their tax breaks to invest, rather than raise wages or lower prices) have stripped the world of its precious resources?

With the message and pipelines discussed in enough detail, it is best to discuss another topic: The Paris Agreement.

Here is an excerpt from Trump’s speech in June 2017, once again courtesy of the White House’s website, in regards to the Paris Agreement:

“As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens. The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.”

It is odd that the POTUS put it that way, seeing that the green energy market is growing. For example, according to EDF, solar and wind jobs are growing up to 12% faster than the rest of the U.S. economy. What this market offers isn’t just creating the solar panels and windmills, but installing and repairing them as well. In regards to USA’s donations into the Paris Agreement, we ranked 11th in donation count, despite being 2nd in CO2 emissions, only behind China, the latter of which comes from Union of Concerned Scientists.

Despite President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement, his views were not universal in the United States. 16 states plus Puerto Rico formed a non-formal agreement, called the United States Climate Alliance, to uphold the standards of the Paris Agreement. The agreement holds both Democrat and Republican Governor support and generates $8.6 trillion dollars alone, based on Bureau of Economic Analysis and the alliance’s official website.

Another point that needs to be discussed is Trump and Pruitt and their relationship to the EPA, the first and last governmental defense of the environment besides Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) and to a lesser extent, the Department of Agriculture and Forest Service. From the EPA’s website, the 2017 budget for the EPA was $8,058,488,000, down from $8,139,887,000 in 2016.

“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks Thursday in the Rose Garden after President Donald Trump announced his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. | Getty” — Politico.com

The Washington Post had this to say in February 12 of 2018:

“The White House is seeking to cut more than $2.5 billion from the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency — an overall reduction of more than 23 percent.
The fiscal 2019 proposal released Monday marks the Trump administration’s latest attempt to shrink the reach of an agency the president once promised to reduce to “little tidbits.” The EPA already has lost hundreds of employees to buyouts and retirements over the past year, and its staffing is now at Reagan-era levels.”

What seems to be often forgotten is the EPA doesn’t just deal with the natural environment and conservation, but also human health. One such example is the regulations and dealings with asbestos in schools and other public areas, as well as other chemical and or hazardous materials. When a budget cut of is up to 20–26% (depending who you are citing) it won’t matter what areas are being cut, you are risking the health of Earth and Americans as a whole.

In regards to Pruitt, who is currently under investigation on Capitol Hill for abuse of power, has taken fossil fuel donations, despite being the department head of an agency who seeks to limit or regulate such a market.

“Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from EPA / Wikimedia and azmichelle / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).” — WhoWhatWhy

There is but one more topic that must be discussed that was not brought up earlier, the notorious border wall. According to the Scientific American, the longest running magazine in the United States, one that even Albert Einstein has contributed to, has pointed out the possible dangers and effects of such a plan. They stated the present fence has cut off and separated populations of wildlife. To back this up, Vox also stated that species such as the jaguar ( considered ‘Near-Threatened’) and the ocelot (which has a decreasing population) would be animals facing the dangers. In addition, the current fences already act as dams, blocking water ways.

In Texas, two major conservation sites for bobcats and armadillos would be in danger, according to Vox. Not only are bobcats, ocelots and armadillos threatened but also over 360 other species would be effected.

Not many scientists have measured the border’s biodiversity in its totality — or the full impact of fences. One of the few studies to tackle these questions was written by Lasky and co-authors in 2011. They estimated that 134 mammal, 178 reptile, and 57 amphibian species live within about 30 miles of the line. Of those, 50 species and three subspecies are globally or federally threatened in Mexico or the United States. And they survive only because people on both sides have worked hard to conserve them. — Vox

Seeing all that there is in this article, it is only the tip of the iceberg and luckily everyday there are hundreds of like-minded men and women all over the world fighting for a healthy world and Human population- We can serve both! Together, we can make this dream a reality.

As promised, I have included all articles and websites used in this work. If you have any questions, concerns or corrections, be sure to notify me by commenting below. Thank you.

_____________________________Sources______________________________

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/02/12/trump-budget-seeks-23-percent-cut-at-epa-would-eliminate-dozens-of-programs/?utm_term=.2f888db8e419