With the one-year mark of the Trump presidency at hand, we count down 10 of its most destructive policies on climate and the environment.
10. Science funding slashed: Science-related programs were cut by at least $7 billion in Mr. Trump’s budget, including deep reductions to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency, as well as to NASA earth science programs, ocean ecosystem monitoring, space station CO2 tracking, the deep space climate observatory and NOAA research. A country smothering science is in decline.
9. River protection ended: Trump signed a joint resolution of the Republican Congress revoking the Stream Protection Rule, thus allowing mining waste to contaminate small rivers.
8. Pipelines green-lighted: The Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines were approved by Trump after vigorous opposition from Native Americans and other activists. Building new fossil-fuel infrastructure when we must instead rapidly transition to renewables is absolutely counterproductive.
7. Climate experts lost: Approximately 770 EPA staff members have left the agency, many reportedly expressing disgust with agency direction under Scott Pruitt. Further, numerous U.S. climate scientists are migrating to France, enticed by President Macron’s commitment to climate action and his offer of 50 research grants.
6. Clean Power Plan nixed: The Plan was the primary method for reaching U.S. pledges under the Paris Agreement. It would cut carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030 and prevent thousands of premature deaths and asthma attacks. Trump’s proposed repeal of the Plan would increase U.S. carbon emissions, cost lives and not produce a major resurgence of coal, according to most analysts.
5. Climate-change language censured: In Orwellian fashion, the EPA and Department of Interior have scrubbed their websites of “climate change.” Further, the Centers for Disease Control reports a list of banned words, including such innocuous terms as “science-based,” “evidence-based” and “diversity.” Trump may not realize banning “climate change” does not halt its progression.
4. National monuments miniaturized: Trump reduced the size of breathtaking Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by 50 percent, despite fierce opposition from Native Americans and environmentalists. These steps will cause destruction of sacred Indian sites, contamination of the land when the new fossil-fuel infrastructure leaks and spills, and an increase in our greenhouse-gas emissions.
3. Paris Agreement exited: With withdrawal from the Agreement, the United States became the solitary rogue nation not participating in this global pact to mitigate climate change. Although market forces will continue to propel the growth of renewable energy, this step will stall climate action at the federal level and eliminate our global leadership on climate.
2. Dangerous drilling expanded: Trump has expanded drilling into the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and protected areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. At the same time he has eliminated drilling safeguards and safety research. The potential for local spill disasters and emissions increase are enormous.
1. Administration oiled: The administration personnel of Mike Pence, Rick Perry, Scott Pruitt, Wilbur Ross, Rex Tillerson and Ryan Zinke offer a rogue’s gallery of climate-science deniers, oil industry lackeys and EPA enemies. This executive branch thus serves the interests of the fossil-fuel industry rather than protecting the environment in service of the American people. The damage of increased use of fossil fuel consists of cardiopulmonary injury to people, contamination of land and water from spills and leaks, increased carbon dioxide and methane emissions when slashing emissions is critical and lowering U.S. competitiveness as the world moves to renewable energy.
A typical reaction to the past year is outrage, anger and despair. But action remains the best antidote. We must protect our climate and environment by constantly opposing Trump’s agenda and by voting for candidates committed to fighting anthropogenic climate change.