The Real Lowdown: The Trump and Congressional Republican Assault on Our Environment, Vol. 33

An unprecedented attack on our public lands and EPA chief Scott Pruitt continues to reward polluters.
Cedar Mesa Citadel Ruins, within Bears Ears National Monument
Credit: Bob Wick/BLM

An unprecedented attack on our public lands and EPA chief Scott Pruitt continues to reward polluters.

President Trump likes doing things that have never been done before—it’s part of his shtick.

There are plenty of good reasons why break-the-mold actions haven’t been tried—often they’re terrible ideas that benefit the wealthy and the privileged at everyone else’s expense.

That reality stood out in sharp relief this past week when Trump moved to radically shrink—for the first time—two treasured national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, both in Utah. These wild landscapes, highlighted by petroglyphs and stone villages of indigenous people, not to mention sheer splendor, are for all Americans to enjoy, for all time. But Trump wants to carve them up for plunder by oil, gas, and mining interests.

Not so fast, came the swift response from millions of Americans and from conservation, environmental, and public advocacy groups. Even the outdoor clothing and equipment powerhouse Patagonia filed a flurry of lawsuits to stop Trump from selling off these public lands.

“His order is not just illegal, but a serious affront to every American who values our country’s natural heritage,” said president Rhea Suh, president of NRDC, which has sued Trump on both monument reductions. Suh pledged to fight in court to “forever preserve these historical, natural, and cultural treasures that are held in trust for future generations.”

The Trump and congressional GOP attacks on our health and environment continued in other ways as well.

Pruitt’s Pro-polluter Rollbacks and Repeals Questioned on Capitol Hill

Nearing the end of his first year, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testified on December 7 before a House panel that addressed, in part, his aggressive efforts to roll back or repeal many clean air, clean water, and toxic chemical safeguards.

“Here’s a question for him: When will you take even one decisive step to increase protections for our health and the environment we depend on?” wrote Ana Unruh Cohen, head of government affairs at NRDC, in an op-ed published in The Hill ahead of the hearing. “Pruitt should start heeding the call of public opinion, not the demands of polluters who put us in peril. If he won’t, the president should fire him. The American people deserve better.”

Pruitt Agrees to Hear More About His Flawed Climate Action Retreat

The EPA announced on December 6 that it will hold three additional “public listening sessions” on Pruitt’s proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan. The plan limits, for the first time, one of the biggest drivers of climate change, carbon pollution from coal- and gas-fired power plants.

For the first public hearing, about 250 people turned out on November 28 and 29 in Charleston, West Virginia, where opposition to Pruitt’s proposal outweighed support for it by a 4 to 1 ratio. And it’s notable that he hasn’t promised any replacement plan to cut power plant carbon pollution.

The next three listening sessions in the coming weeks will be in San Francisco; Gillette, Wyoming (in coal country again), and Kansas City, Missouri. Registration info will be posted here

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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