Trump’s Negative Impact on the Environment:
The Changing Face of the EPA
On February 17, 2017 the U.S. Senate confirmed that Scott Pruitt would be the new head of the U.S. EPA.
Ironically, prior to his position, Pruitt frequently sued the Obama EPA over its regulations and was often associated with oil and gas companies.
Today, Pruitt continues to downplay scientific evidence proving that Earth’s warming is mainly a result of greenhouse gases. He even says that carbon dioxide and its role in changing climate is unclear.
This is why Pruitt eventually went on to remove the word “science” from the EPA’s mission statement along with any content devoted to explaining climate change.
Pruitt also dismissed several members of the Board of Scientific Counselors and even reassigned staff members who specialized in climate change adaptation.
This sparked controversy in other EPA members’ eyes as they voluntarily quit or retired.
Notable environmental scientist Michael Cox blasted the Trump administration in his farewell letter saying that Trump is working to dismantle the authenticity of the EPA and its staff.
And what is Pruitt’s justification? Pruitt agrees to follow through with Trump’s budget cuts to scientific research and the EPA. This is why he announced a “back-to-basics” agenda that raises short term economic growth over regulations that protect and preserve the environment. 1
Dirty industries at all costs
On January 24, 2017, Trump expressed that he permits the construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines ignoring its contribution to mass greenhouse emissions over time. On March 24 and March 27 both were approved and fully prepared for use.
In addition to the pipeline being built on spiritual Native American land, it also poses a health threat. The high risks of an oil spill mean that reservations nearby could face the risk of poisoned water sources from contaminated watersheds and reservoirs.
Oil spills that could also endanger animals, their habitats and their livelihoods 2
Evidently, Trump continues to support the oil and gas industries even withdrawing from Obama EPA requests to continue to track the industry’s methane and volatile emissions.
Moreover, he eventually went on to sign an executive order that downplays the industry’s carbon emissions.
This led him to review policies on coal leases that prevent mass offshore oil and gas drilling in parts of the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Species, water and other natural resources at risk
On March 1, 2017 Ryan Zinke was sworn in as the Secretary of the Interior. One of his first moves was to eliminate Obama’s ban on lead ammunition on federal lands and waters, making hunting, fishing and other recreational activities justifiable on National Park grounds.
Like Zinke, other supporters consider this a new possibility for development on federal lands. Others however note upon how wildlife will be more at risk and how extinction rates will continue to rise. 3
Yet, Trump administration continues to turn a blind eye on anything that does not result in economic profit. This includes the Endangered Species Act. Myron Ebell the head of the Trump transition team called the Act a “political weapon” and voiced his support for a complete overhaul of the bill.
Other resources are also at risk including the right to have clean drinking water.
He has already revoked the strict restrictions on dumping mining waste into surrounding waterways and now he has issued a review of the ‘Waters of the United States’ rule that falls under the federal Clean Water Act. A regulation that extended protection to wetlands, isolated lakes and other sources for clean drinking water.
Why does this matter?
Everything is at stake.
As the U.S. continues to be one of the most powerful and influential political forces in the world, it is clear that dismissing the reality of climate change and environmental issues is just plain irresponsible.
Trump recently said that he will be pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, steering away from a group of 194 other countries that have promised to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions.
His decision is a setback as the U.S. represents one of the largest leadership roles to address climate change. Their influence could prompt other countries to withdraw from the pact or even rethink their emissions pledges. This makes it even more difficult to achieve the agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to a manageable level.
According to President Trump, cuts to environmental funding and changes to environmental policies are essential in order to sustain the economy. He puts forth the notion that oil, gas and other industries should continue to undermine sustainable advances as they create jobs.
He ignores the fact that investments in sustainable, eco-friendly technology could also do the same. That in the long run, they could even save the Earth and sustain the livelihoods of all species.
In reality, Trump and his administration offers a simple, short term fix to a much more complex issue. 4
- Letzter, R., & Perkins, M. S. (n.d.). Scott Pruitt’s first 100 days at the EPA have shown he’s unlike any former chief [Blog post]. Retrieved from Business Insider website:http://www.businessinsider.com/scott-pruitt-epa100-days-2017-4
- Worland, J. (2016, October 28). What to know about the Dakota Access Pipeline protests [Blog post]. Retrieved from Time website: http://time.com/4548566/dakota-access-pipeline-standing-rock-sioux.
- Hartl, B. (2017, February 6). Zinke’s dismal record on public lands makes him unfit for Interior [Blog post]. Retrieved from The Hill website: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/energy-environment/318110-zinkes-dismal-record-on-public-lands-wildlife-make-him
- Greshko, M., Parker, L., & Howard, B. C. (2017, June 14). A running list of how Trump is changing the environment [Blog post]. Retrieved from National Geographic website:http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/how-trump-is-changing-science-environment/