Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Trump and the Fossil Fuel Industry

Donald Trump is the world's most powerful advocate of the industry that is at the heart of the climate crisis. It is an irrefutable scientific fact that if we are to minimize global warming we must stop burning coal, oil and gas. The fossil fuel industry has known this for decades. However, they concealed that information and launched sophisticated disinformation campaigns to deceive the public so that they can keep profiting from their energy dominance. Their rejection of science and climate denial have brought us to the brink of collapse. They are complicit in the systemic racism that plagues the U.S. They have a long history of environmental racism and funding police including falsely characterizing peaceful protestors as terrorists.

As a nexus of corruption they go a long way to explain why we have so much political dysfunction. They buy politicians and political outcomes but Trump is by far the most powerful politician the industry has ever owned. Trump's politics are powered by dirty energy and his administration is filled with fossil fuel advocates. Just after he was elected Trump tapped Scott Pruitt to head the EPA and more recently he named Jeffrey Bossert Clark to lead the DoJ's enforcement of environmental regulations. Trump has staffed his administration with industry insiders to remove oversight and eliminate regulatory impediments.

Trump has overturned 11 rules related to drilling and extraction with another 8 in progress. He is attempting to expand drilling in the Arctic including ConocoPhillips' Willow project which would would see 250 new wells, a processing facility, pipelines, airstrips, roads, a gravel mine, a gravel island and an ice bridge.

Trump and his administration are not moved by threats to wildlife or ecosystems. Rather than embrace the facts, Trump, the EPA and the Interior Department have all declared war on science. There are numerous examples of scientists being ignored or censored and when they refuse to fall into line they are let go. According to a 2019 Columbia Law School report, there have been hundreds of examples of the federal government censoring, hindering, or sidelining climate change science since Trump was inaugurated.

The Trump administration eschews science to serve the interests of the fossil fuel industry. Trump cut back on protected areas and opened up more land for oil and gas leasing than any other president in history. As explained in a recent report, "Trump has led the most anti-nature presidency in U.S. history". The analysis was published earlier this year by the Center for American Progress (CAP). CAP says the Trump administration has taken away (or is working to takeaway) protections from 35 million acres of public lands. This makes Trump the only president in U.S. history to have removed more public lands than he protected.

The Trump administration has massively expanded dirty energy infrastructure. A 2019 report details more than 700 new US fossil fuel facilities that have been recently built or proposed for development. One of Trump's biggest gifts to the fossil fuel industry was the killing of the clean power plan.

In recent months the president's pro-oil advocacy includes an executive order that allows polluting projects like power plants and pipelines to forego proper environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act. In April Trump formally began to repeal the Clean Water Rule, that same month the EPA began allowing polluters to use COVID-19 as an excuse to stop monitoring and reporting on their pollution. In May Trump rolled back fuel efficiency standards known as "clean car standards". In June, EPA finalized the rule that will gut critical elements of the Clean Water Act and make it much more difficult to fight back against polluting projects like pipelines. At the same time the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue ordered the U.S. Forest Service to expedite environmental reviews which will increase logging and oil development on public lands. Also in June the Trump administration moved forward with its plans to remove wild bird protections thereby imperiling the lives of billions of birds. EPA chief Andrew Wheeler also proposed weaker guidelines for industry under the Clean Air Act. Most recently Trump funneled billions of tax dollars to the fossil fuel industry under the guise of pandemic relief.

Air pollution generated by the fossil fuel industry causes death and disease and their role as the primary driver of climate change threaten all life on Earth. When you add their deceit, disinformation and environmental racism, they are insupportable to all but the most callous sadists or the most willfully naive.

It is important to understand that Trump is a symptom and not the cause. Republicans have been dirty energy advocates for years before Trump declared his candidacy for president. However, in the last four years Trump and the GOP have made it even easier for the fossil fuel industry to undermine the health of Americans and threaten life on Earth. The only way that dirty energy can be contained is if their political minions are removed from office.

Related
Trump Hates Renewables and Loves Fossil Fuels
Trump Undermines Renewables to Help Fossil Fuels and Take Revenge on Cities and States that Oppose Him
The Trump Administration is Hurting US Renewables and Imperiling the Planet
Pruitt's Murderous Legacy
Oil Spills Illustrate the Dangers of Fossil Fuels 

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