Donald Trump has previously claimed that climate change is a Chinese-perpetrated hoax, promised to defund UN climate initiatives, and called the Paris Agreement "ridiculous." It's fair to say that Trump is not expected to be a friend of the environment over the next four years. Here, starting the day after his inauguration, is our running tally of the steps he has taken to undo (or, we can only hope, better) the already inadequate work his predecessors have taken to slow global warming, protect public lands, and keep our air and water clean and plentiful.
17. June 1, 2017. Announces the U.S. will begin the process of backing out of the Paris climate accord, an agreement for environmental action signed by 195 nations. “But we will start to negotiate," he said in a speech given in the Rose Garden, "and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great.”
16. April 27, 2017. Signs executive order mandating a review of the Obama administration's five-year plan for offshore natural gas and oil leasing as well as all regulations related to leasing energy development, including wind, in federal waters. The order also reverses Obama’s ban on offshore drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off northern Alaska.
15. April 26, 2017. Issues Executive Order #13792, which calls for a review of all National Monuments designated under the 1906 Antiquities Act since 1996. It continues to be unclear what the review would entail, or what it would mean for these monuments, but experts speculate the Trump administration is looking to downsize or attempt to rescind these designations — both possible, and legally dubious.
14. March 29, 2017. The Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke put out two secretarial orders that lift a 2016 moratorium on all new coal leases on federal land and demands a “re-examination" of climate change policies within the Department of Interior to be balanced with "the equally legitimate need of creating jobs for hardworking American families." Two pertinent facts for this order: Some 40 percent of the nation’s coal comes from federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management; and according to Department of Energy numbers, clean energy jobs outnumber coal and gas jobs 5 to 1 nationally.
13. March 28, 2017: Signs a sweeping executive order that: 1) Orders a review of the Clean Power Plan, an EPA rule put forward by Obama to regulate carbon dioxide from fossil fuel–burning power plants; 2) lifts the moratorium for coal mining leases on public lands; and 3) removes greenhouse gas emissions form the calculations made by the National Environmental Policy Act.
12. March 16, 2017: Proposes the EPA's budget come down to $5.7 billion, a 31 percent cut from the current levels and the biggest among all government agencies.
11. February 28, 2017: Signs another executive order calling to review the "Waters of the United States" rule, a regulation created by Obama under the Clean Water Act that gave the federal government power to regulate major bodies of water, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Trump's order requires the EPA to review and ensure this rule "promotes economic growth and minimizes uncertainty when it comes to regulation."
10. February 24, 2017: Signs an executive order that calls to expedite environmental reviews for "high priority infrastructure projects." The order takes particular aim at the construction of American pipelines, including Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipeline, which have been delayed due to lawsuits surrounding the environmental review by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. "Infrastructure projects in the United States have been routinely and excessively delayed by agency processes and procedures," says the E.O. "These delays have increased project costs and blocked the American people from the full benefits of increased infrastructure investments."
9. February 17, 2017: The Senate confirms Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, an attorney general for Oklahoma, has sued the EPA 13 times, received nearly $315,000 in campaign contributions from fossil fuel industries since 2002, believes there is still room for "debate" on the extent of man-made climate change (flying in the face of the consensus from the vast majority of world's climate scientists), and has repeatedly called for states to have the final say in environmental matters — this from a man about to be in charge of a Federal agency.
8. February 3, 2017: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R, FL) introduces H.R. 861 in the House of Representatives. Full text is not yet available, but the full title of the bill is "H.R. 861 — To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.” The bill has three co-sponsors: Rep. Thomas Massie (R, KY); Rep. Steven Palazzo (R, MS); and Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R, GA).
7. January 30, 2017: Signs an order aimed at cutting regulations on businesses, saying that agencies should eliminate at least two regulations for each new one. While the actual implementation of this regulation is causing lawmakers to scratch their heads, it could potentially have major ramifications for the Environmental Protection Agency, leaving them with what Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, tells the Washington Post is a "Sophie's choice. ... If, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency wants to issue a new rule to protect kids from mercury exposure, will it need to get rid of two other science-based rules, such as limiting lead in drinking water and cutting pollution from school buses?”
6. January 25, 2017: Mandates studies from scientists at the EPA undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public. "Everything is subject to review," says Doug Ericksen, the communications director for the transition team at the EPA.
BREAKING: Trump administration mandating EPA scientific studies, data undergo review by political staff before public release.— The Associated Press (@AP) January 25, 2017
5. January 25, 2017: Orders EPA's climate change Web pages to be taken down. Sources told Reuters the administration has instructed the EPA to take down epa.gov/climatechange. It’s still live… for now.
4. January 24, 2017: Stops researchers from discussing anything at all with the outside world or news media. Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture e-mailed staff to inform them that they may no longer discuss agency research or departmental restrictions and that press releases and external communications about taxpayer-funded work would stop until further notice.
3. January 24, 2017: Signs an executive order and several presidential memorandums to expedite the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
2. January 23, 2017: Freezes grants and contracts for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, meaning the agency is going to have trouble dispersing its (clearly meager) budget. This could potentially threaten core operations ranging from toxic cleanups to water-quality testing, according to ProPublica.
1. January 21, 2017: Takes down any reference to climate change on the official website, whitehouse.gov (formerly found at whitehouse.gov/energy/climate-change). Replaces it with one energy-related talking point, "An America First Energy Plan," that states: "For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule."
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