President Trump Takes Aim at the Environment

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CreditCristina Spanò

President Trump brandished executive pen and fresh hyperbole last week in blessing the coal industry’s decades-old practice of freely dumping tons of debris into the streams and mountain hollows of America’s mining communities.

“Another terrible job-killing rule,” Mr. Trump declared at a signing ceremony that struck down the Obama administration’s attempt to regulate surface mining wastes. He insisted he was saving “many thousands of American jobs” in sparing coal companies the expense of cleaning up their environmental messes.

The signing ceremony was not just an insult to the benighted coal hamlets of Appalachia, where the industry’s dumping of debris down the mountainsides has created a wasteland. It also ignored two truths. One is that by official estimates the rules, while helping the environment, would in fact cost very few jobs — 260 on average a year offset by almost the same number of jobs for people hired to comply with the rules. What’s been costing jobs in the industry for years — and this is the second and larger truth — is a shifting global market in which power plants have turned to cleaner natural gas. In cynically promising the resurgence of King Coal, Mr. Trump might as well have been signing a decree that the whaling industry was being restored to Nantucket.

Americans can expect more such delusional signing ceremonies in the days ahead as Congress avails itself of a little-used statute known as the Congressional Review Act to strike down environmental rules that are vulnerable to reversal because they were enacted in the waning months of the Obama administration. Any such rule labeled “job killing” or “executive overreach” seems doomed, especially if seen as a threat to campaign donors in the fossil fuel industry. It matters little that the rule may be widely supported by the public.

A case in point is a rule that seeks to reduce wasteful emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, at thousands of oil and gas wells across the West. Though the industry cries bankruptcy, the Interior Department calculates the cost of the rule at less than 1 percent of revenues. Another target is an Interior Department rule that would invite greater public input in designing resource management plans across the West to achieve a fair balance between conservation and commercial development. Representatives Rob Bishop of Utah and Liz Cheney of Wyoming — two reliable industry supporters — have managed to persuade their colleagues that this would undercut state authority, which is nonsense.

Picking off these easy targets is only the beginning of the administration’s retreat from environmental sanity, using fantasy claims of job creation to cater to the Tea Party’s resentment of federal regulation. One leader of this retreat will be the new boss of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general and aggressive skeptic of climate change who made his political career out of suing the agency he now leads. Within days of his swearing-in, demoralized E.P.A. workers were reminded of Mr. Pruitt’s close working ties to the fossil fuel industry as thousands of his emails were released showing his office dealing hand in glove with industry lobbyists.

Mr. Pruitt quickly riled critics by daring to quote John Muir, the patriarch of the environmental movement and founder of the Sierra Club: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in.” Left unmentioned were his orders from Mr. Trump to rewrite, rescind or at least challenge any important environmental rules left standing when Congress has finished with its current demolition job.

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5 thoughts on “President Trump Takes Aim at the Environment

  1. What Trump-GOP era means for wildlife, environment, public land, national forests, pristine places: it essentially means the conservation movement fight for survival of biodiversity, wilderness, pristine places, public land, national forests, maybe of the planet. We are already in the 6th greatest extinction, the Anthropogenic Extinction. Americans just chose capitalism, the “United States of Exxon”, coal, gas & oil, hunting, commercial use of public land, over the environment, wildlife, and the pristine. Greed chosen over conservation. And typical Trump and GOP the deregulations will not save “millions of jobs”. The regulations were all there for good purpose, like having coal mines clean up their own messes.

    “I’ve never been *here* before. I’ve never faced the possibility of an administration whose hostility, ignorance, and arrogance threaten all of our communities, every single beautiful place, policy advancement, and threatened creature we care about.” Sierra Club 12/28/2016

    Trump and sons will vitalize recreational wildlife killing (aka hunting), along with the Ryan Zinke at Interior appointment. Zinke will probably also bolster ranchers on public land, extraction industries on public land, and development on or near public land and cutting down and ranching on national forests. The wolf, grizzly, and other predators are threatened, to say the least, under Trump led GOP. The Trump cabinet is looking like the “United States of Exxon or Shell or BP”. The EPA and ESA are n trouble. Clean Power Plan and Paris Climate Accords are in trouble. Democracy and free speech may even be in trouble. The Anthropogenic Extinction (Sixth Great Extinction) will be accelerated. Maybe it will include humans as the threat of global and nuclear war rises with ever diminishing resources and competition for them. Class warfare will intensify as the governments distribute resources upward in flow up economic policies of plutocracy-kleptocracy.

    Ranching (animal farming), hunters, trappers, extraction industries, developers, conservative state legislatures, republicans, are the enemies of wilderness, wildlife, the environment. Republicans vote against wildlife and wilderness 90-99% of the time. Capitalism unfettered and as the number one priority while wilderness, wildlife, the environment take a lower to nonexistent priority. Trump has unleashed unfettered capitalism, anti wilderness, anti wildlife forces. They intend to weaken, underfund, de-prioritize EPA, ESA, move toward state control and discretion, “rural interests” everywhere. States like WA, OR, CA will have to hold the line. Hopefully the wolf jihad, and other predator jihad, states like MT, ID, WY, WI will not go totally kill crazy.

  2. No surprise. Trump wants “energy independence,” another name for extraction of every kind and everywhere. He has given no indication that he has any concern for animals or increasing species extinction. We all know where his sons stand on trophy hunting. So not much but bad news ahead.

    Trump, the Tweeter, reminds me of the tweet of another Republican, Congressman Steve Stockman: “The best thing about the earth is if you poke holes in it, oil and gas come out.”

  3. Trump/ Bannon’s whole agenda is to “deconstruct” the government–which includes everything from the top down, paying special attention to ANY regulations which might impede their idea of “jobs & development.” Then, comes the Supreme Court. They will use whatever tactics they wish–because they can now.

    There is something we can all do immediately: The RESIST movement is encouraging, but it Must include attacking those democrats who have been voting along with GOP, and whom are all Right-Wingers: If the RESIST movement targets these democrats along with the GOP bastards, we might be able to stop some of the atrocities coming soon. Here is the list of the BIG 5 Dem. Sell Outs:

    Manchin-D, WV
    Heitkamp -D, ND
    Tester- D, WY
    McCasskil – D, MO
    Donnelly-D, IN Senator Chuck Schumer, (another sell-out) also should be targeted. Schumer, Merkley, and Sanders feel even these terrible Democrats should be supported, which is only helping Trump and his Billionaire Crooks.

    Just getting rid of these sell-outs would be useful in fighting what is coming.

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