One Year of Trump’s Environmental Attacks—and More to Come

As the president ramps up his reckless rampage on our health and environment, we will continue to fight back.
Credit: Jim Bourg/Pool Photo Via AP

As the president ramps up his reckless rampage on our health and environment, we will continue to fight back.

Has it really been just a year since Donald Trump’s inauguration?

It can seem like a lifetime ago, especially when it comes to the mindless and reckless assault he’s waged against the commonsense safeguards we all depend on to protect our environment and health. From coast to coast, from the mountains to the sea, Trump is using every tool at his disposal to expose our waters, air, wildlife, and lands to toxic pollution and industrial ruin on a scale not seen since the days of the robber barons.

After a generation of bipartisan progress on responsible stewardship, Trump has taken a let’s-blow-it-up-and-see-what-happens approach. It’s not about creating jobs. It’s about helping big polluters boost profits on the backs of our kids. 

Scrapping needed protections doesn’t cut costs. It simply shifts those costs away from industry and onto our families and communities nationwide. That’s the driving force behind one destructive act after another by Trump that puts our environment at risk.

In the single-largest attack ever on our public lands, he went to Utah last month to strip out needed protections for nearly two million acres of federal lands, clearing the way for coal, oil, gas, and uranium production on big swaths of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments. We’re fighting that in court.

In the worst industrial assault ever on U.S. ocean waters, marine life, and coastal communities, Trump proposed earlier this month to allow oil and gas development in the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific oceans and the eastern Gulf of Mexico―waters long off-limits to the hazard and harm of these dangerous industrial operations at sea. We’re standing up to protect our seas and coasts.

Trump put the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the thumb of Scott Pruitt, a career foe of responsible public oversight, and has gutted the agency that stands as the last line of defense for a clean and healthy environment. We’re fighting for a strong EPA.

Trump is undermining the rules of the road that protect the quality of our water and air, clean up toxic industrial sites, and protect us from pesticides and other dangerous chemicals in our workplaces and homes. We’re standing up for the protections we need.

And Trump is trying to thwart efforts to cut the carbon pollution that’s driving global climate change. He has ceded U.S. leadership on the worldwide transition to cleaner, smarter ways to power our future and set back efforts at home and abroad to address the central environmental challenge of our time. We’re fighting to leave our children a livable world. 

Whatever the country voted for in 2016, nobody voted to hand over for industrial ruin the public waters and lands that belong to you and me. Nobody voted for dirty water, toxic air, and contaminated food. And nobody voted to put fossil fuel profits ahead of our children’s future, break our promise to the rest of the world, and sideline our workers in the economic play of our lifetime.

The public doesn’t support Trump’s reckless rampage. Seven in ten Americans oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but Trump and congressional Republicans have opened it to drilling. Nearly three million citizens insisted he protect Bears Ears before he destroyed it. Nearly eight in ten say carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant, but Trump is trying to kill the single-most important measure we have to do that: the Clean Power Plan. Now and in the months to come, we’re going to hold to account both the administration and those who are enabling its destructive ways.

As bad as the past year has been, we’re entering a new and potentially more damaging phase.

In the coming weeks, Trump will roll out his proposals for the fiscal 2019 budget, likely calling for further cuts that target the EPA, environmental enforcement, and the scientific inquiry we depend on to better understand our world. 

The administration is ramping up its attack on efforts to cut our carbon footprint by working to undermine efforts to clean up our cars, dirty power plants, and oil and gas wells. It is threatening the sources of clean drinking water for one in every three Americans by working to kill or delay the Clean Water Rule. It’s accelerating efforts to eliminate protections for certain migratory birds and endangered species. And it’s poised to delay standards we need to help us consume less energy in the appliances we use at home and on the job.

We’re braced, also, for more attacks on our public waters and lands, efforts to water down standards that protect our farmworkers and families from dangerous pesticides, and the abuse of so-called emergency powers to prop up dirty fuels. And we’re already seeing attempts to weaken bedrock laws that guarantee the voice of our citizens in major projects that impact our states and communities. This is not populist government. It’s not government by the people. It’s a pollute-ocracy, plain and simple.

Our health and environment are under assault. We know who’s reaping the benefits, and we know who’s paying the price. We in the environmental community, and in communities large and small across this country, will fight back.

We’ll tell the truth about what’s at stake―for our families and for our country. We’ll stand up for progress and promise. We’ll use our laws and courts to hold the administration to account―for what it does and what it fails to do. And we’ll do our part, each of us, as citizens, to show up and speak out on behalf of the safeguards we need to defend a clean environment, protect public health, and leave our children a livable world.

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