This week, the Trump Administration continued its sweeping assault on our public lands and oceans issuing an unprecedented Executive Order mandating a review of all National Monuments designated since 1996. As my colleague writes, this is a shocking rejection of the very principle of conservation that has been a central part of America’s identity since President Teddy Roosevelt set aside our first National Monument, the Devils Tower more than a century ago.
It’s also enormously controversial. That’s probably why the administration took great pains to hide the ball on the true scope of its attack. Initial press statements claimed the review would apply only to a handful of larger monuments. Yet the actual Executive Order contains no such limitation, putting over 50 existing monuments on a target list to be drastically shrunk or sold off to the highest bidder.
Call it spin. Label it misinformation. Or an outright and intentional falsehood. The salient point is that it’s time for everyone—from individual citizens to the press—to look behind the curtain of Trump’s words and judge by the actual actions taken.
Little could be more revealing than the consistency with which Trump and his cabinet are systematically attempting to deliver the fossil fuel industry its wish list—no matter how much that list violates the science, the law, real economics, or the will of the majority of Americans. And that it puts our health at risk that rises with every anti-environmental action the president undertakes.
Tomorrow the President reportedly will announce another Executive Order that similarly threatens our valuable public waters. We can predict a similar pattern of misdirection.
We are not certain of exactly what will be in the executive order. But we do know its intent: to be the opening move to putting drill rigs in our coastal waters—and oil spills—back on our beaches.
There will be a lot of hand waving about jobs and energy independence, blatantly disregarding the threat offshore drilling possess to over 1.4 million existing jobs that support local communities up and down the coast.
It will ignore the fact that oil from these still unspoiled oceans would take decades to reach consumers, long past when we need to make the transition to clean energy.
And it runs rough-shod over the will of the people. No one should forget that during the course of the last two-year process to evaluate the management of our commonly held coastal resources a groundswell of bipartisan opposition erupted across the nation demanding that our public waters be preserved and protected.
That opposition will be on clear display today when Senators Ed Markey and Menendez host a press event along with 27 colleagues to introduce legislation further protecting our oceans, coastal residents, and climate. The event only underscores the broad base of support for keeping oil off our beaches and our commitments to clean energy on course.
There is simply no reason whatsoever to restart a process, concluded only a few months ago, other than to try and force the will of the oil industry on the people—by hook or by crook.
Tomorrow, we will see just how far President Trump wants to go at the behest of the oil industry.
What we know today is that the administration is opening the door for our priceless natural landscapes to be sold and exploited. Our public parks, monuments, national forests, wildlands and vibrant oceans, set aside for all to enjoy, are a unique part of our collective heritage. Preserving them has been one of America’s great innovations. Preserving them highlights American values. It’s our duty to protect them for this and future generations. These lands and waters belong solely to the American people. They should never be sold to polluters or given away to private interests that would desecrate and destroy them for profit.
And any attempts to do will meet the same intensity of opposition that led to the protection of these wonderful places in the first place.