Twelve of the most egregious acts Trump and Republican’s have done or plan to do that will accelerate the climate crisis.
1. Climate Denier as Head of the Environmental Protection Agency
Trump tapped Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. Pruitt is a denier of man-made climate change and a self-described “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”. As state attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA 13 times to prevent implementation of various environmental protection rules. As head of the EPA, Pruitt has questioned the link between human activities and climate change, disputed that burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change, and said that carbon dioxide is not a contributor to climate change.
2. Trump’s Executive Order Undoes Obama’s Clean Power Plan
On March 28 President Trump signed a sweeping executive order repealing a wide array of the Obama administration’s environmental protections. Chief among these is rolling back Obama’s landmark Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan required coal power plants to reduce emissions by 30% and set tough standards for new coal power plants. These rules are now on hold, and new standards will be written by Scott Pruitt. Coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels, and limiting coal emissions is key to slowing climate change.
3. Overturning Methane Emission Rules
President Obama had established tough guidelines requiring natural gas companies to account for the methane leaking out of their pipelines and set a goal of reducing methane emissions by 40% by 2025. President Trump’s executive orders would undo these rules. Methane is a greenhouse gas with 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide and contributes to the formation of smog.
4. Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline
President Trump reversed the Obama administration’s decisions blocking the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines. Now, despite nationwide protests, these pipelines will be built. Once completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) will run through Native American lands and under Lake Oahe, the water source for the nearby Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The Keystone XL Pipeline will transport heavy crude oil from the tar sands region of Canada. Tar sand extraction is controversial as it creates 20% more greenhouse gasses than traditional sources. Despite promises of jobs, once operational the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to employ just 50 people.
5. Weakening Automaker Fuel Economy Standards
The Trump administration has halted President Obama’s strong fuel economy standards for automakers. Obama had established a nationwide standard that would have vehicles getting over 50 miles per gallon by 2025. Trump has instructed the EPA to review this rule with an eye toward significantly lowering the standard. Transportation accounts for just over 25% of US carbon emissions.
6. Gutting EPA Funding
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts funding to the EPA by $2.6 billion dollars, almost a third of its budget, to its lowest funding level in 40 years. It cuts 3,200 EPA employees, 20% of the agency’s staff. Trump’s cuts would sharply reduce the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program, eliminate the Energy Star program, defund the Office of Chemical Safety, and end environmental cleanup programs in the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes, among other regional cleanup projects. Christie Whitman, George W. Bush’s EPA chief, says these cuts will endanger lives.
7. Repealing Environmental Regulations
The Trump administration has issued an executive order instructing all agencies to establish “task forces” to nominate regulations to repeal. The criteria for repeal is based purely on economics, without regard for the effect on health or the environment. The House has passed a similar bill, the SCRUB Act, which could designate for repeal any regulation judged to “hurt US competitiveness”, regardless of environmental impact.
8. State Department Removes Climate Change Programs
Under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, the State Department has removed climate change from its mission. It deleted information about climate change from its website and public materials. The Department of Defense considers climate change to be a national security issue. Climate change is expected to create significant political instability across the world. The Syrian refugee crisis, for example, was started by a severe drought.
9. Deleting Climate Research
The Trump administration has deleted climate research from government websites and defunded future research. Climate scientist have rushed to save their data before it is deleted from government computers.
10. Revoking the Clean Water Rule Protecting Wetlands
President Trump signed an executive order revoking President Obama’s Clean Water Rule. This executive order sharply reduces the amount of wetlands protected from pollution and development. This executive order would allow previously protected wetland areas to be dredged and backfilled for development. Wetlands serve as important barriers against hurricanes and flooding, and filling them in will leave areas more at risk to extreme weather events.
11. Drilling in National Parks
House Republicans have introduced a bill that would undo rules governing oil and gas drilling in national parks. The National Parks Service has developed a public process to protect America’s national parks, and this bill could overturn that.
12. Dumping Coal Waste in Rivers
President Trump signed legislation ending the Stream Protection Rule. This rule prevented coal companies from dumping waste into rivers and streams. Overturning it has been a key goal of coal executives.