While thousands of people took to the streets in today’s “March for Science” in honor of Earth Day, Trump responded with a press release as tone-deaf as it is contradictory.
In the press release, Trump immediately claims, “[his] Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species.”
His policies say otherwise.
In February, Trump signed a bill ending the Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule, which protected waterways from coal mining waste. After that, Trump signed a Congressional Review Act resolution, ending a financial disclosure requirement for energy companies. In March, Trump signed his “Energy Independence” executive order at the EPA. Per Reuters:
The order’s main target is former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants – a key factor in the United States’ ability to meet its commitments under a climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.
Trump’s decree also reverses a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undoes rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production and reduces the weight of climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions. Carbon dioxide and methane are two of the main greenhouse gases blamed by scientists for heating the earth.
Trump’s statement goes on to claim that, somehow, “Economic growth enhances environmental protection… That is why my Administration is reducing unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies…” Reminiscent of Representative Dave Brat (R-VA)’s claim that “Rich people, it turns out, like clean air and clean water,” to a chorus of boos at his own town hall, Republicans are operating under a faulty mindset that if we repeal regulations meant to protect the environment, we will get so rich that we can then afford to protect the environment. Another way, of course, would be to protect the environment in the first place.
The Obama Administration left a legacy of the strongest environmental protections in the history of the United States and, miraculously, managed to do so without decimating the American economy. In fact, the economy thrived. Under Obama, the unemployment rate dropped from 10% to 4.7% and 15.8 million private sector jobs were added, the longest streak of total job growth on record.
Trump then states, “My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.” Of course, that research – largely ignored by the Trump Administration – already exists. For example, we already know that carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas, is the primary driver of global warming, a fact that Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, denies in the face of all research.
Trump also proposed cutting the EPA’s budget by 31%. This would affect states’ ability to monitor public water systems, to have access to safe drinking water, to police environmental offenders and impose penalties, to revive wetland habitats, to clean up toxic pollution and hazardous substances, to combat invasive species, to protect from radiation, to study the health consequences of chemicals in everyday products, to increase federal vehicle and fuels standards, and to protect the planet from the effects of climate change.
Trump finally concludes his conflict-riddled press release by offering a tepid appeal: “This April 22nd, as we observe Earth Day, I hope that our Nation can come together to give thanks for the land we all love and call home.” Look outside, President Trump, at the thousands of people marching in Washington D.C. at this very moment and you will realize that there is only thing standing in the way of truly giving thanks for that very land we “all love and call home.” And that’s you.
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Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.