Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Less than a week into his presidency, Donald Trump has declared war on the environment.
The assault commenced minutes after he was sworn into office, when the official White House website was updated. Gone was President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy to curb greenhouse gas emissions, promote renewable energy and address the worsening effects of climate change both at home and abroad.
The new website, which reflects the Trump administration’s priorities, doesn’t even mention climate change.
It’s all been replaced by President Trump’s America First Energy Plan, a stubborn commitment to slashing Obama-era environmental regulations and reviving fossil-fuel production for the sake of mindless economic growth:
For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.
The plan — which makes no mention of wind, solar or renewable energy — calls for exploiting “the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own.”
By ignoring the threat of climate change and failing to make renewables part of America’s domestic energy policy, President Trump is weakening our national security, overlooking important economic opportunities and disregarding the health and well-being of all life on Earth.
Likewise, undercutting the Waters of the U.S. Rule — which gives jurisdiction over smaller streams, waterways and wetlands to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers — is a kowtow to big polluters in the oil and agriculture industries. America’s most precious and vulnerable streams, home to endangered species and critical spawning habitat for wild fish, are one step closer to becoming flowing cesspools for corporate polluters.
President Trump is also already making headway on his promise to dismantle the EPA. While he can’t abolish the agency without Congressional approval, he can weaken it via defunding. That’s exactly what he’s doing.
Hours after Trump’s inauguration, his administration directed officials at the EPA to freeze all grants and contracts, essentially preventing the agency from spending money to carry out even its most basic work. Meanwhile, fossil-fuel ally Scott Pruitt — who has repeatedly sued the EPA to prevent it from pursuing its mission — is a lock to be confirmed as its administrator by a Senate soaked with just enough red to render Democrats impotent.
And today, in perhaps his most emphatic display of ecocidal tendencies, President Trump signed a pair of executive orders paving the way for the revival of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines — two controversial projects rejected by the Obama Administration.
Once again citing energy independence and job creation (the Keystone XL pipeline will actually create only 50 permanent jobs), Trump made it clear — just a few days into his presidency — that fossil-fuel interests are more important than protecting the environment, tackling climate change and respecting indigenous rights.
Despite casting himself as a populist, President Trump has spent his first days in office crafting policy designed to aid big business and industry under the guise of boosting economic growth, generating jobs and making America great again.
But Trump doesn’t see it that way.
Speaking in front of auto-industry executives on Tuesday, the President made a hilarious effort to paint himself as a friend of the environment.
“I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist, I believe in it,” he said.
Don’t buy this and other alternative facts the Trump administration seems intent on peddling. President Trump is no environmentalist. Neither is he a president of the people, as he continues to spout from his brand-spanking-new bully pulpit.
In his first five days in office, President Trump has proven one thing: His administration will not hesitate to destroy the environment, exacerbate climate change and squelch science in an effort to pander to the fossil-fuel industry to which he and his cabinet are so closely connected.
Until his inauguration, we could only speculate what Trump would do. Now we know. Buckle up. It’s going to be a long four years of protests, legal challenges and furious action to protect the environment at the local level.
Poor President Trump. He has no idea what he just started.