OPINION: Trump set to dismantle U.S. environmental safeguards

by | Mar 10, 2017 | Opinion

By Ruth Escarlan

The environmental views of former U.S. President Barack Obama and current U.S. President Donald Trump can be compared to the antithesis of oil and vinegar or fire and water: complete opposites.

A glance at the White House website hints at Trump’s version of environmental policy. The omission of two words from the website, climate change, and the removal of Obama’s Climate Change webpage – in its stead is Trump’s page An America First Energy Plan – have made obvious Trump’s stance on climate change.

If deletion of the words climate change isn’t glaringly enough to persuade a skeptical mind, Trump has appointed Myron Ebell, a climate change denier who tries to discredit scientists working on understanding global climate, as the head of the transition team for the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The agency focuses on protecting human health and the environment from such problems air and water pollution.

To add salt to the wound, Trump selected Scott Pruitt, previously the Attorney General for Oklahoma, as EPA’s administrator. Pruitt has led or taken part in 14 lawsuits against EPA’s major regulations. In addition, Trump’s energy secretary, Rick Perry, has advocated the destruction of the department he now leads.

So far, the Trump Administration plans to undo two of Obama’s environmental regulations: Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule.

An America First Energy Plan states that “President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.”

Last Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order to repeal Obama’s Clean Water Rule. Although it may be tough since the latter supports the 1972 Clean Water Act that protects bodies of water from being a sewer waste for farmlands and industries which can harm human health and aquatic life.

In the near future, Trump is also expected to sign another executive order for Pruitt to repeal the Clean Power Plan which aims to reduce carbon dioxide and other atmospheric emissions from power plants.

He also plans to revive the coal industry using “clean coal technology” even though the name itself is an oxymoron since there is nothing clean about the mining, production and use of coal.

But despite all his work, Trump never fails to leave minds spinning with contradictory statements as seen from further reading on his energy plan:

“Protecting clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources will remain a high priority. President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.”

Already, Trump has proposed to cut the EPA’s budget by 24 per cent and reduce its staff by 20 per cent. In protest, an EPA veteran resigned after 24 years. Mustafa Ali was the assistant associate administrator for environmental justice. He told CNN he would wait and see what Trump’s administration would focus on.

“…but I have not seen or heard any indication the administration plans to work with vulnerable communities as it relates to environmental protection,” Ali told CNN.

If Trump does plan on protecting US “clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habits, and preserving our natural reserves and resources,” then budget cuts and staff reductions do not support his claim. He should increase funding and staff, create more programs and not remove essential environmental programs. Most of all, he should not have an EPA head who denies the urgent and scientifically-supported knowledge that human activity significantly causes global warming.