The Real Lowdown: The Trump and Congressional Republican Assault on Our Environment, Vol. 5

Credit: Maren Winter/iStock

As early as Monday, President Trump could undo the Clean Power Plan. His long-awaited executive order also may include a broad drive to undo many other climate action initiatives undertaken by former President Obama.

The Clean Power Plan would slash climate-changing carbon pollution 30 percent by 2030 from our largest source, power plants. Curbing that air pollution would avoid, each year, 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed workdays and school days.

Additional climate initiatives that may fall under Trump’s assault—wrapped up in a misnamed “energy” directive—address other harmful pollutants, the cost to Americans from climate damages, climate research, coal mining, flood protection, and more. Saving lives, improving health, safeguarding communities, and promoting the promise of clean energy could be out the window.

You have to give some credit to Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, for his candor about the president’s goal, reflected in the budget he released earlier this month, to defund the government’s work on climate change. “We think that’s a waste of your money,” Mulvaney said.

It’s not. It’s money spent protecting our health and future. In other, similar ways, meanwhile, Team Trump and congressional Republicans are continuing an assault on our health and environment.

Another fight to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

On March 24, Trump issued a permit for construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Obama had rejected this dirty energy project because it would undermine the United States’ global leadership on addressing climate change―not to mention sending foreign oil through America’s heartland for sale largely to foreign markets, all to boost the profits of a foreign energy company.

Notably, just days before, Trump repeated a false statement that the pipeline would be built with U.S. steel, notes Josh Axelrod, a policy analyst in NRDC’s Canada Project.

Keystone XL is all risk and no reward for the American people. It remains, and always will be, a threat to our land, water, and climate. Nothing can change those facts. NRDC will use every tool in the kit to stop this dangerous tar sands oil project.

Trump offers false hope to coal miners

Because he’s apparently happiest on the campaign trail— although the words happy and Trump aren’t often in close proximity these days, given his 37 percent approval rating— the president traveled to Kentucky, a state he handily won last fall.

In Louisville on the night of March 20, he promised, without providing details, forthcoming actions “to save our coal industry and save our wonderful coal miners from continuing to be put out of work. The miners are coming back.” The marketplace, however, may have other ideas. The Washington Post reported that while the coal industry has a pulse in the Trump era, a major new boom in coal jobs seems unlikely at best.

Republican congressmen stump for smog

On Capitol Hill, congressional Republicans held a hearing on March 22 to shine a spotlight on their bill to weaken health protections against ozone pollution. Wags dubbed their measure the “Smoggy Skies Act.” The GOP legislation would block ozone standards that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency updated under Obama; it would also delay updates on other pollutants, such as lead and carbon monoxide.

Improving ozone standards, according to the EPA, can help avoid up to 660 premature deaths, 230,000 childhood asthma attacks, and 160,000 days when kids miss school annually.

GOP health care bill

For much of the week, Washington was consumed by the drama of Trump and the House Republicans searching for votes in the lower chamber to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

NRDC and eight other environmental groups weighed in with a letter to Congress urging members to oppose the repeal. NRDC health experts Miriam Rotkin-Ellman and Valerie Baron wrote: “Whether it’s fighting lead-contaminated water, the effects of extreme heat, or industrial pollution, people living in communities on the front lines for environmental threats also disproportionately lack access to the health care we all need.” The repeal effort, the letter continued, “would push critical medical care even further out of reach of those who need it most.”

NRDC has prepared a list of other far-ranging threats. And we will be vigilantly monitoring and reporting on the administration’s assault on the environment through Trump Watch.

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