In 2017, Trump expressed his intent to withdraw from the 2016 Paris Climate Accord by 2020. This can be discerned as his first step toward sabotaging the environment. By far, Trump’s administration has been the most dangerous regime for the environmental cause. In the wake of the Holocene extinction crisis, Trump’s changes to USA’s environmental policies are expected to cause long-lasting damage to the air and water, as well as to the quality of life in the country and the world as a whole. He has explicitly called the Paris Climate Accord a regressive policy that “punishes” the United States and imposes “no meaningful obligation” on countries like China and India that are also major polluters.
According to sources, China’s carbon emissions stood at 7.50 metric tons per capita in the year 2014 and India’s emissions were 1.73 metric tons per capita. However, USA’s emissions were 16.49 metric tons per capita. It is thus not rocket science to deduce that USA has to curb emissions faster and more effectively than other countries at the moment. Trump’s administration however, finds it very inconvenient to lose out on business opportunities owing to regulations and policies that attempt to protect the environment, and has deliberately worked to reverse these polices. Ironically, Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, an ardent nonbeliever of the phenomenon of climate change, as the 14th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Scott Pruitt has stated that the EPA is an agency that is significant for producing regulations that contribute to repressing the industry with red tape. Appointing such a person to lead an organization that should be responsible for promoting sustainable living is almost spiteful. With this the Trump Administration has strategically pulled the EPA under its wings. In fact, The New York Times conducted an analysis using Harvard Law School’s Environmental Rollback Tracker, to keep a tally of the number of regulations that have been dismantled in Trump’s regime, and so far, it has been found that the Trump administration has initiated the reversal of 67 environmental laws. Experts have concluded and reported that the damage caused by the Trump administration and concerned US agencies to the environment will result in 80,000 health-related deaths every decade, which will be a result of bad air and water quality. This is one of the more terrifying effects of climate change.
In December 2018, Trump’s administration auctioned off 150,000 acres of public land in Utah, to mine oil and gas. While Utahns have initiated a transition from fossil fuels to clean energy across the state, Trump’s decision to lease public lands for fracking near Bears Ears, Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep national monuments as well as the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area will only affect public health, public lands and the economy. Fracking threatens sensitive plants and animals such as the black-footed ferret, Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker and Graham’s beardtongue. It also worsens the impact of air pollution and contaminates groundwater. The ecology of the state is therefore, in serious danger of depletion.
Since taking office in 2017, this is only a fraction of the federal lands that Trump has removed protection from. A part of his campaign promise was to gradually dismantle USA’s environmental law, something that Obama’s regime had carefully crafted. Similarly, Trump and Pruitt planned to remove the Obama-era Clean Water Rule to an extent that it would be rendered completely ineffectual. The EPA also loosened regulations on toxic air pollution. In 2018, it was reported that the Trump administration overturned 33 environmental rules out-and-out, while 34 were in the process of being rolled out. For the same reasons, according to latest reports, environmental groups and non-profit organizations have launched roughly 100 legal suits against the President’s administration.
The Centre for Biological Diversity, a non-profit organization that works to protect endangered species through litigation, reports that it has filed up to 93 suits against Trump’s government. One in five of their cases have been related to transparency lawsuits. The most recent lawsuit filed by this organization challenges the Trump Administration’s approval of the massive Utah Oil Shale Development. This project could be a disaster for Utah’s climate, wildlife and the Colorado River Basin. Oil shale is one of the world’s worst carbon-polluting fuels with lifecycle carbon emissions up to 75% percent higher than those of conventional fuels. Huge amounts of water will be required for the production of oil shale which will ultimately result in water depletion.
This is not the first time Trump has negligently put the environment at risk for the sake of generating revenue. Many environmentalists have said that Trump’s administration has been one of the most anti-science, anti-environment administrations that USA has ever witnessed. Trump has been blatantly unconscientious by prioritizing revenue. Clearly, he is a good businessman but not the greatest leader in the history of USA. The country needs a leader that can concentrate on the development of a sustainable society as much as the development of the economy.
Picture Courtesy- America Magazine