The Real Lowdown: The Trump and Congressional Republican Assault on Our Environment, Vol. 37

Trump taxes the sun while his EPA wants to let industries increase harmful air pollution.
Credit: Joyce Marrero/iStock

Trump taxes the sun while his EPA wants to let industries increase harmful air pollution.

And so it came to pass, on the 22nd day of January, late in the second decade of the 21st century, that the leader of the free world imposed a tax upon the sun.

He, of course, didn’t characterize it that way. Truthfulness does not come naturally to Donald J. Trump.

All presidents shade the truth, but Trump is in a league of his own. The former reality TV star and real estate mogul, astonishingly, has made 2,140 false or misleading claims in the first year of his presidency. (NRDC has fact-checked his key—and many—environmental misstatements on Trump Lies.)

So one could be expected to react with some skepticism to the president’s announcement this week that he was imposing steep tariffs on foreign washing machines and solar products, ostensibly to protect U.S. manufacturers. This is the same president who has declared it his mission to make America “energy dominant,” and by that he means a dirty energy powerhouse.

The fact is, Trump’s sun tax raises the price of progress for every American. It means higher electricity bills today and worsening climate change tomorrow.

“President Trump just placed a huge and unnecessary hurdle in front of an industry that’s hitting its stride,” said Kevin Steinberger, a Climate & Clean Energy program policy analyst at NRDC. “We can’t afford to handicap such a critical resource for powering America’s clean energy economy.”

Trump’s solar tariff move is yet another example of the ongoing assault on our health and environment by the president and allies in Congress, and it doesn’t seem likely to abate soon.

Trump’s EPA Backs Biggest Increase of Harmful Air Pollution—Ever

On January 25, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will allow hundreds of American industrial facilities to dramatically increase their emissions, ushering in what could be the greatest increase of hazardous air pollutants in U.S. history.

“This move drastically weakens protective limits on air pollutants like arsenic, lead, mercury, and other toxins that cause cancer, brain damage, infertility, developmental problems, and even death. And those harmed most would be the nearby communities that are already suffering a legacy of pollution,” said John Walke, NRDC’s Clean Air director, who vowed that NRDC would fight the move with every available tool.

High Court Sends Clean Water Cases Back to Lower Courts

The Supreme Court on January 22 sent several challenges to the Clean Water Rule back to district courts. “While today’s decision may extend the time line for litigation over the rule, the good news is that it should put the Clean Water Rule back into effect widely, ensuring clear and strong protections for our nation’s waters,” said Jon Devine, senior attorney at NRDC.

"The Clean Water Rule provides strong protections for streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water that feed the drinking water supplies for one in three Americans,” he added. “It also helps prevent dangerous flooding, helps provide habitat for the fish we eat, and supports a robust recreational economy.”

NRDC Files Third Legal Challenge to Pruitt’s Purge of Science Advisors

Back in October 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a none-too-subtle directive to purge the agency’s scientific advisory boards of, well, scientists. On January 24, NRDC filed a third legal challenge to the directive, contending that it is unlawful and violates, among other things, the Administrative Procedure Act. The suit asks a federal court to vacate the Pruitt directive.

NRDC’s suit observes that the result of the directive has been to “remove qualified experts from EPA’s advisory committees, to disqualify a larger body of experts from serving on those committees, and to skew the representation on the committees in favor of entities that may have financial interests in weakening regulations that protect the environment and public health.”

Thanks for reading this final edition of the Real Lowdown, which now draws to a close just after the one-year mark of the Trump administration.

NRDC has prepared a list of far-ranging threats. And we will continue vigilantly reporting on the administration’s assault on the environment through Trump Watch and fact-checking President Trump’s misstatements in Trump Lies.

Related Blogs