Climate Conscious
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Climate Conscious

Is Trump Really an Environmentalist?

Trump announces an expanded ban on offshore oil drilling in Florida, Sept. 8. Photo courtesy of Global News Archive.

Fact check: Trump is no environmentalist

Full disclosure: This fact check against Trump’s recent environmental boasting isn’t objective journalism. And I don’t think it has to be: The press and free-thinking people everywhere have thoroughly scrutinized the transgressions I’m about to spew about our 45th President.

So I feel OK providing my opinion on his latest environmental farce with the harshest of cynicism, the slightest degree of satire, and fuming frustration.

Here we go.

President Theodore Roosevelt. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Trump, as great as Teddy Roosevelt

Upon his Sept. 8 speech announcing an expanded ban on new offshore drilling off the coast of Florida and other Southern states, President Trump coronated himself as the most significant environmental advocate since Theodore Roosevelt:

“This will make us and make you the number one environmental president since Teddy Roosevelt … But it’s true, number one, since Teddy Roosevelt, who would have thought, Trump is the great environmentalist. You hear that, Ed? You hear that right? That’s good. And I am. I am. I believe strongly in it.”

He goes on to say:

“Thanks to my administration’s pro-American energy policies we can take this step and the next step while remaining the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.”

So we can thank his energy-independence-by-all-means-necessary policy for banning some offshore drilling in one of his battleground states? By this step and the next step, he was saying (and I, of course, am extrapolating):

“Look, I can protect Florida’s relativity low-priority coastlines [no offense, Floridians] from unsightly offshore drilling and do it somewhere else.”

That oil and natural gas have to come from somewhere. It will come from places with the least constituency yet greatest environmental importance — places like reservations, National Monuments and Forests, and the Arctic. If Trump is genuinely concerned about environmental protection, offshore drilling in the Gulf would be the least of his worries. Trump condoned opening the Tongas National Forest for timber harvesting and expanded oil drilling in the Arctic. Yet he smugly champions the extractive economy there in the name of energy independence and jobs.

His move to expand a ban on coastal state offshore drilling was calculated, strategic. I interpret his speech as such:

“I need the votes of the big, lovely patriots in Florida. Yes, I love you, and you love me, I know, so I’ll extend this red herring to distract you from the real damage going on in the Arctic and other far away, ugly, nasty un-American places of the world. But you know, there aren’t a lot of people in those places, the Arctic and those nasty places, you know, and hey! Hey, Ed, your dollars and influence matter more than theirs, don’t they! Why don’t you stand up and tell me how much I care about this great, beautiful, big and beautiful country. And the big, great and beautiful planet I care about. Yes, our country is big and great, and the best in producing big green, beautiful oil. So vote for me if you care about it at all. Because we’ve done a great job, haven’t we? Making oil and the big, big earth more beautiful.”

I wish it were harder to predict what President Trump would say, barring political, social contracts. Unfortunately, it’s not that difficult to imagine the above theoretical statement from our Chief Executive’s mouth sans political nuance.

Trump, the incumbent

Trump paints a shuddering future for the environment under a Biden Administration: The environment will be “badly, badly hurt, it will be injured and permanently injured.” I have no idea where he finds that scientific consensus. It’s remarkably difficult to find any merit in that claim, nor to imagine an environment worse off with any of President Trump’s contenders. It’s hard to conclude that something will be definitively “badly hurt … injured and permanently injured” without evidence to the contrary. And, goodness, evidence to the contrary exists for Trump.

All you have to do is follow the scent of the red herring.

Trump and his environmental obfuscations

Let’s start with the next bullet point in his speech: Trump claimed that his Administration has cleaned or partially cleaned 61 EPA Superfund sites, what he said is “Far more than Obama and Biden.”

Foul. First off, what defines “partially cleaned” Superfund sites is anyone’s guess.

The number of officially cleaned National Priority Sites under the Trump Administration? 31. And how many did Obama and Biden officially clean up during their Administration? 60.

His next environmental accolade?

“Since my inauguration, we’ve recovered more endangered or threatened species than any other administration has accomplished in its first term.”

The Trump Administration has seen 16 species delisted from the Federal Endangered Species list. Obama saw 30 species removed from the list during his two terms. Trump’s accomplishments for saving endangered species and cleaning up the nation’s most polluted land is only par for the course. And do consider that Trump has a proven track record of opening habitat essential to endangered and threatened species to destructive mining and industry. One can only guess how many species will become threatened, endangered, and extinct due to his actions.

Later in bis speech, President Trump claims that under his opponents’ “socialist platform,” energy costs would be up to 10x more expensive then they are now.

“And, really, you wouldn’t have any energy.”

Again, I call foul. Renewable energy has become just as affordable as natural gas and is gaining every quarter.

And by the way, does anyone else find it ironic that Trump touts how cheap fossil fuel energy is during a speech announcing a moratorium of offshore drilling?

Again, affordable oil has to come from somewhere to fill up those Escalades for $2 a gallon.

Trump, and sense of place

Trump has no idea what it means to have a sense of place.

“To my Administration, environmental protection is a sacred obligation and so it is our duty to fight for the dreams and livelihoods of the citizens we serve and to the citizens of Florida that I know so well and that I love, this is my home. This is my home.”

The sinking coasts of Florida, nor the vanishing snow line of D.C., nor anywhere is your home, Mr. President. Your pillow bulges where lies and deceit best favor your megalomaniacal fixations. Your current convolution of what “home” is, Mr. President, is not based on moral guidance nor scientific fact.

Trump, the generous pimp

Trump even hints at political favors to his followers. In his speech, he claims Florida was in great disrepair until he possessed the presidency. Florida, which largely voted for Trump in 2016, has received its political recompense:

“I love Pensacola. I think it was 97% [for Trump] that’s one of the reasons I like it [and why he decided to throw a carrot at it right before the election] … Right up there, so that helps [to garnish political favors]. It’s amazing how that can help, isn’t it?”

So supporting the President gets you political favors? So the Great Lakes, where “that woman from Michigan” dared to defy Trump’s wisdom on the coronavirus, or California’s horrific droughts and rapacious wildfires don’t matter, because they don’t offer the same political support for the Trump Administration? May I remind our President that he is the Chief Executive of these United States, not only the red ones.

Trump, the glory hound

President Trump cannot and should not be blamed for the cumulative environmental and social purgatory this and generations to come will face. They are the manifestation of hundreds of years of both “left” and “right” immorality and incompetence, a phenomenon no administration could undo in four measly years. But similarly, and perhaps more importantly, one Administration cannot be credited with the cumulative accomplishments of generations before it.

Granted, his recent signing of the American Outdoors Act was an impressive milestone for conservation. And of course, he brought this fact up at the Sept. 8 speech, lauding it as the most significant conservation legislation since Theodore Roosevelt (the Associated Press met him halfway, saying it is the most significant conservation legislation in the past 50 years). But keep in mind, Trump wasn’t the brainchild of the Act: It was a bipartisan effort born in the House without Trump’s knowledge or input.

Trump: The Conclusion

You are no Teddy Roosevelt, Mr. President. You are no champion of the environmental agenda because you relegated a handful of relatively inconsequential oil rigs to political pawns in the 2020 election.

You claim to focus on restoring endangered species and safeguarding clean air and water, while you want to gut the EPA (a proposed 26 percent budget cut) along with a host of other environmental maldecision:

And no, the economy is not “better than ever” because of you, Mr. Trump. You have not “done a great job” saving this nation from the coronavirus pandemic. You have not bolstered law-and-order by sending federal agents to interfere against the will of sovereign states. You have not secured national security by creating a southern border wall, a monument to racism, xenophobia, and an altar upon which innocent people’s lives burn to your advantage and ego.

You are attempting to hijack our forebears’ successes and failures, utilizing them to your political favor. You contain, as Bob Dylan sings, multitudes.

Yet you will be judged by your actions, history, and, by my convictions, our Maker.

And by those I find you wanting.

I pray every day that you and myself, Mr. President, will repent of our conscious and unknowing sins.

As a journalist, I thoroughly scrutinize your habit of truth-bending. As a morally conservative and fiscally liberal Christian, concerned U.S. citizen, avid environmentalist, and marginally “woke” adult privileged white male, I detest and stand against the deplorable misconduct by which you have so blatantly disgraced the honorable office of the President of the United States.

May God and history judge your egregious actions quickly. Otherwise, all that I believe is detritus.



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Christian Wayne Yonkers

A Michigan-based journalist and photographer creating content for environmental and social change.