On Earth Day last Saturday, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke collaborated on a guest column in the Waco Tribune-Herald (click & read). In it the wrote that “Since January, the Trump administration has been fighting to grow jobs while protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we inhabit…. This Earth Day, we have a message for our fellow Americans: Together we can achieve a clean environment and a strong economy.”
It’s been 100 days since President Trump took office. Candidate Trump campaigned on his first-100-day contract with the American voter (here). In it, he committed to “fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.” Trump said in an interview (here) “I’m a huge believer in clean water and clean air.” Moving past the campaign and what I wrote in Trump on Environment (click to read), it’s the first 100 days of onboarding that indicate what’s yet to come. So how’s that working out for our “clean environment”?
The Pull Away from Climate Action
Atmospheric carbon reached 410 ppm (click to read) and 2016 was the hottest in 3 million years (click to read). More than 61% of Americans think climate action regulations should remain (click & read). Together with the effect of his executive orders, including challenges to pollution limits and the clean power plan (click & read), it’s questionable whether we will able to mitigate the worst effects of climate change (click to read). But his own counsel is split over the reality of climate change and whether or not to withdraw from the Paris Agreement (click to read).
The Good News: Climate change poses greater threats to our quality of life and survival, but other countries and global leaders are stepping up in the absence of American leadership. China renewed its commitment to the Paris agreement (click & read). China, Brazil, India, and South Africa are the countries calling Trump back to the table (click & read). Mars Inc, Staples, and The Gap are among many companies publicly opposing Trump’s climate change (click & read). Michael Bloomberg asks other nations to stay the course (click to read). Even elected officials like those in my nearby Kalamazoo (click & read).
Threats to Public Lands
More than 60% of Americans don’t want any more drilling on American public lands (click to read). But Trump and business leaders shamelessly applauded the resurrection of DAPL and Keystone (click to read). As I write this, Trump announced an EO for Interior Secretary Zinke to review designations under the Antiquities Act back to 1996 (click here), which could result in public lands given away to states (click & read). But 60% of Westerners support public lands (click & read). Trump signed HR 44, which reserved exclusive input on public land management to extraction industries (click to read my post “Liberty vs. Public Lands”).
The Good News: The assault on America’s public lands has caused an alignment of advocates for public lands (click to read). The Outdoor Industry Association is a strong force and met with MoCs this week in Washington, DC. They defeated HR 621, which would have sold off 3.3 million acres of public land (click to read). Their research and advocacy and the coming together of advocates in outdoor sports, outdoor recreation, and outdoor industry led to bipartisan, bicameral caucuses on outdoor recreation (click to read).
Gutting Environmental Law, Policy, and Management
Over 60% of Americans want the EPA and its regulation (click to read). The government offices responsible for our environmental safety or climatological future have received adversarial appointments, budget defunding (click & read), top-down challenges (click & read), and threatening legislation by the GOP (click & read). The 115th congress has kept ESA under attack since January (click & read). Trump scrapped limits on methane emissions (click & read), undercut automobile emissions (click & read), weakened climate and renewable energy initiatives, suspended challenges to toxic chemical and mercury pollution (click & read).
Trump’s budget proposes National Park Service cuts of 12% and $1.5 billion. Then he made a donation of $78,333 (click & read). For a guy who likes “clean water”, the first laws he signed as president were to dismantle the Clean Water Rule (click & read) and clean water protections (click & read). Trump is promising lower standards for automobile emission, the only state who can is setting a higher auto emission standard California is willing to fight for (click here).
The Good News: Despite the President’s efforts to talk them out of it, nearly half of the largest American companies are reducing their own footprint (click & read). Even Walmart joined a coalition to lower carbon economy (click & read). Younger generations, who have the most at stake, are finding their voice in the American judicial system, suing for a liveable future (click to read). Even without action by those who should know better, youth are finding creative ways to truly solve problems (click to read about Boyan Slat, for example). And #peakcoal trends are not likely reversible (click & read).
Environmentally Unbalanced Supreme Court
Neil Gorsuch was successfully nominated and confirmed. How Republicans did this will affect future SCOTUS nominations (remember that, Conservatives). There is still no clear case of how our new justice will decide environmental cases. Many found his unexplained vote on capital punishment in Arkansas to be partisan. If so, environmental damage and harm to communities may now go unchecked by our highest court. …or never get their day in court (click here).
The Good News: A 2015 case has surfaced in which Justice Gorsuch ruled for a Colorado state law requiring 20% renewable energy and against a coal company (click to read).
Impacts of a Border Wall
The border wall shaped up to be a significant complication. And it’s complication conversations between congress and the president in general. If realized, it will have significant impacts on wildlife and nature.
So I thank Misters Perry, Pruitt, and Zinke for the reassurance. I’m sure that folks in Waco have their faith restored. But the rest of us need some objective evidence. I could be convinced that top-down, litigation happy environmentalism is not the best way forward. But the long list of removing any protection of a livable country for the American people? That is clearly a political agenda guiding policy. It is not a verifiable way toward a healthy environment. Neither is it a way toward a stronger economy or even energy independence. It’s nothing more than a partisan middle finger held high.
I still advocate…
Understand where people are coming from.
I continue to believe that we are here because we don’t connect. I’ve been tested on this. How do you listen when there’s no reasonability on the other side? By being reasonable.
Focus on real connections between nature and quality of life.
The administration just responded to local communities and did not auction extraction leases on BLM land near Rocky Mountain National Park (click to read). Why? Because area ecotourism businesses depend upon a healthy ecosystem for their business.
Be part of the solution, not the problem.
Divisiveness will not help you. It will only isolate you further. Most recent poll numbers show that while people don’t support Trump, they still wouldn’t vote for anyone else (click here). People don’t trust the options they’re given. So help them find better options.
Tell your story better and in the right way.
If you’re saying words and people aren’t responding, the problem may not be people. It may be you. Communication means saying it in a way they understand.
Lend advocates your help. Someone has to watch the watchers.
After all, it was icons like Google and Facebook who had the clout to take on Trump’s travel ban (click to read).