The Real Lowdown: The Trump and Congressional Republican Assault on Our Environment, Vol. 30

More giveaways of our public lands to polluters and Trump keeps promoting a pesticide that’s toxic to children.
Credit: Robert Shantz/Alamy

More giveaways of our public lands to polluters and Trump keeps promoting a pesticide that’s toxic to children.

After months of delay, House Republicans this week released a 429-page proposal to cut taxes that would fatten the federal deficit and leave funding for health and environmental safeguards famished. House GOP tax writers have other skewed priorities as well.

“Their plan barely touches huge tax giveaways for fossil fuels,” said Ana Unruh Cohen, NRDC’s director of government affairs. “But it would zero out cost-effective electric vehicle tax credits and weaken tax credits for wind and solar that are creating jobs, spurring innovation, meeting consumer demand, and cleaning up the air.”

NRDC government affairs and clean energy experts Elizabeth Noll and Marc Boom explained further how the tax proposals outlined by the Republicans and President Trump favor polluters over people, here and here.

In other ways, congressional Republicans and the president’s team have maintained their relentless assault on public health, public lands, and our environment.

Uranium Mining Near America’s Cherished Grand Canyon—Sure!

Uranium mining poses a wide range of potential human health risks. But that didn’t stop the Trump administration from proposing, on November 1, to lift a 20-year ban on such mining near one of our most admired national parks, Grand Canyon. The sweeping geologic marvel was visited by six million people last year.

Trump’s proposal is in keeping with his so-called “energy independence” executive order—which fails to find ways to promote fossil-free clean energy from wind and solar technologies.

Trump Promises to Hand Over Utah Public Lands to Fossil Fuel Exploitation

Not content with opening public lands just in Arizona, Trump reportedly intends to issue an order to gut protections for two treasured national monuments in Utah: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

“It is a disgrace that the president wants to undo the nation’s first national monument created to honor Native American cultural heritage,” Rhea Suh, president of NRDC, said. “And it’s a travesty that he’s trying to unravel a century’s worth of conservation history—all behind closed doors. The American people want these special places protected.”

Zinke Energy Plan: Polluters First

A strategy document prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior, under Secretary Ryan Zinke’s leadership, shows the agency’s goals are to open other public lands and offshore waters to increased mining and drilling, with less public oversight. It’s part of the Trump administration’s so-called “America First” energy strategy.

“This isn’t an America First strategy; it’s a Polluters First strategy, said Danielle Droitsch, director of Fossil Fuel Supply at NRDC. “While the Trump administration looks to boost entry fees to enter our national parks, they’re giving away America’s lands and waters to profit oil and gas industry executives.”

EPA Chief Pruitt Purges Independent Scientists, Welcomes Pollution Promoters

On October 31, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt moved to get rid of science advisors who have EPA grants from the agency’s Science Advisory Board and the Clean Air Science Advisory Board, calling it an effort to promote independence.

But he reportedly plans to replace them with about two dozen pollution promoters and those hostile to credible science, and his first two appointments fit that bill: Michael Honeycutt, who previously weakened environmental safeguards in Texas, and Tony Cox, who has denied that deep reductions in ground-level smog have produced detectable benefits—a ludicrous position, according to a Johns Hopkins doctor.

“Scott Pruitt’s reign at the EPA is increasingly hazardous to our health,” said Christina Swanson, director of NRDC’s Science Center.

See No Evil: Trump Keeps Promoting Dangerous Pesticide

On October 29, the New York Times published an op-ed piece, “Trump’s Legacy: Damaged Brains,” taking the president to task for pushing to keep the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos on the market as a favor to the $800 billion chemical industry. Chlorpyrifos is linked to learning disabilities in children.

“No matter how you vote, there are some issues we should all be able to agree on, and this is one of them: Chemicals that are dangerous for our children’s health do not belong on the food we feed our families,” wrote Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist in NRDC’s Health program. “And we will not stand by while a powerful industry continues to put them at risk.”

Trump’s DOE Keeps Dragging Feet on Saving Consumers Money

The Department of Energy is considering proposals that would weaken the nation’s energy efficiency standards. Calling some of these proposals “likely illegal,” NRDC energy expert Lauren Urbanek wrote that “the result will be a bigger burden on the cheapest, cleanest domestically produced energy resource: energy efficiency. The proposals in question,” she continued, “undercut the highly successful energy efficiency standards program by making changes to a program that has worked well for decades.”

Bad Senate Bill Would Clear the Way for Risky Pipelines

A bill recently introduced in the Senate, S.1844, would make it easier for risky natural gas pipelines to get approved. The bill “would weaken environmental review and lead to environmental harms and wouldn’t even solve the problem of consumers needing cleaner energy at an affordable price,” said Amy Mall, senior policy analyst in NRDC’s Land & Wildlife program. “Before weakening our bedrock environmental laws, Congress should instead ensure that [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] promotes efficient use of existing pipelines, which have significant excess capacity, before approving any new ones.”

That’s this week’s Real Lowdown. NRDC has prepared a list of other far-ranging threats. And we’re vigilantly reporting on the administration’s assault on the environment through Trump Watch and fact-checking President Trump’s misstatements in Trump Lies.


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