Thursday, March 2, 2017

Trump Addresses Congress and Offers More Environmental Doublespeak

If one did not know better, Trump's first address to the joint session of Congress could almost offer a glimmer of hope. However, his pledge to work with both parties to "promote clean air and clean water" is the same old doublespeak. This is not the first time he has insinuated that he will actually protect the environment. There is method to saying one thing while doing another, it allows him to give the impression that he is doing something even when he is doing the opposite. Trump maligns traditional media so that he can control the narrative or distract people's attention.

Just hours before he promised a bipartisan environmental effort, Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) instructing his EPA chief Scott Pruitt to kill President Obama's 2015 Waters of the United States rule. Trump wants to remove federal protection for the water supply of more than 100 million Americans. If Trump has his way major bodies of water, streams and wetlands will be vulnerable. Trump is expected to sign a similar EO trying to kill the Clean Power Plan.

However, the New York Times reports that killing Obama's water protection rule and the Clean Power Plan will not be easy. Pruitt will have to engage in a complicated legal process of rewriting the rule and this could take years. An expert in environmental law quoted by the Times emphasized that the EO has no legal force.

"The executive order has no legal significance at all," said Richard L. Revesz, a professor of environmental law at New York University. "It’s like the president calling Scott Pruitt and telling him to start the legal proceedings. It does the same thing as a phone call or a tweet. It just signals that the president wants it to happen."

If Pruitt follows Trump's EO and rewrites the rule it will be subject to a public comment period before it is finalized, and there will likely be lawsuits once it is completed. Ultimately it is expected will end up in front of the Supreme Court.

The sad reality is that dismantling environmental protections will be the new focus of the EPA under Pruitt. The Times quoted Pruitt as saying recently, "I think there are some regulations that in the near term need to be rolled back in a very aggressive way."

Trump may pay lip service to clean water but he has no intention of protecting American waterways or the air that Americans breathe.

Trump put a climate denier at the head of the EPA and now he is slashing the agency's budget by one quarter effectively preventing the agency from monitoring and enforcing pollution rules. Job cuts at the EPA are now inevitable and the benefactors will be industrial polluters. Other EPA activities that are likely to be effected include cleaning up oil spills, efficiency programs, chemical oversight and food safety.

When it comes to climate change Trump's attack on the EPA will undermine monitoring and enforcement   In addition to killing the Clean Power Plan, Trump is also pushing forward with two massive carbon bombs the Keystone XL (KXL) and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

These actions should not surprise anyone who has followed Trump's campaign and his early moves as president. Soon after taking his oath of office in January Trump began his war against the EPA. Trump's chief strategic advisor Stephen Bannon's remarks at CPAC in February confirmed what most of us already knew. His administration plans to kill regulations and dismantle government agencies.

We have to look at what Trump does and ignore what he says. This administration may occassionally throw and environmental bone here and there but they are synonymous with dirty water, polluted air, and climate chaos

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