By Eric Pooley
This blog originally appeared on EDF's Voices blog.
President Trump’s position on environmental protection “has been consistent,” EDF President Fred Krupp notes in an essay published in the July-August issue of Foreign Affairs, a subscribers-only magazine. “He wants far less of it.”
Here’s your chance to quickly catch up on the Trump environmental decisions Fred outlines in his essay – just as the big fight over the 2018 federal budget gets under way.
He wants to decimate the EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual budget, currently at $8.06 billion – its lowest level in 40 years – makes up just 0.2 percent of the federal budget. Even so,Trump and his EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, want to cut the agency by nearly one-third.
If Congress passes anything close to these proposed cuts, Fred writes, it will “destroy the EPA as it currently exists.”
He has questioned science and silenced scientists
Trump’s political team has imposed new restrictions on public communications by EPA staff and, in late April, ordered the agency to take down its climate science web page. It now redirects to a page that says updates are pending “to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.”
Trump and many of his cabinet leaders question the scientific consensus that human activities drive climate change. Every single cabinet secretary Trump chose to oversee his energy and environmental agenda, meanwhile, has ties to the fossil fuel industry.
It’s the governmental equivalent of a hostile takeover.
He’s rolling back key environmental standards
Over the past few months, Trump has:
- resumed sales of coal mined on federal land
- reversed an Obama-era restriction against dumping mining waste into waterways
- killed a mandate that federal agencies must consider climate change when making decisions
- revoked the EPA’s landmark Clean Power Plan
- announced the United States will withdraw from the 195-country Paris Climate Agreement
- asked the courts to delay a hearing about limits on mercury and other toxic pollutants from power plants, which suggests he plans to weaken such rules
- moved to overturn rules that limit methane gas pollution from oil and gas production
- allowed, over the objections of EPA scientists, the continued use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to breast cancer and birth defects
And yet, Fred writes, there are some grounds for optimism.
Americans and markets disagree with Trump
Recent polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans support the EPA as well as government support for clean energy development.
At the same time, market forces continue to favor clean energy over fossil fuel investments – by a huge margin. Red congressional districts today boast more large-scale wind and solar production than do blue ones.
Solar power is now so cheap, in fact, that even the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in the heart of U.S. coal country is switching to solar, Fred writes in Foreign Affairs.