President Trump has consistently garnered the lowest possible ratings from environmental and climate crisis groups. Preeminent organizations of scientists — both national and international — have decried his policies and his removal of the United States from environmental and health agreements. Career scientists and policy-makers in federal agencies have resigned over the administration’s new policies. Employees of federal agencies are no longer permitted to use the phrase “climate change.” The rule changes affect air and water quality and environmental safety — not just our national lands.
We have put together a brief look at the Trump administrations changes to environmental policies during his tenure.
UPDATE: January 5, 2021
“[T]he federal government will no longer fine or prosecute companies whose actions cause the death of birds, as long as killing birds was not the underlying intent of the action.”
Trump’s EPA gutted an Obama-Era rule that had imposed stricter regulations on chemical facilities as a response to the 2013 Texas fertilizer plant explosion.
Bureau of Land Management rescinded a rule that would have required fracking companies to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on BLM lands.
Oil and Gas Leasing Program on Arctic Refuge
The Trump administration has moved to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, announcing in December that leases would begin to be sold in 2021. Every U.S. bank has announced that they will not fund drilling projects on this land.
EPA Rescinds Restrictions on Greenhouse Gasses
This ongoing reversal of rules that restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) has been challenged by a recent bi-partisan bill in congress. HFC’s, used in refrigeration and air conditioning, have been shown to have a significantly greater effect on atmospheric warming in the short term than CO2. This past December, congress pushed back against the Trump administration by announcing an agreement to a new set of regulations.
UPDATE: November 3, 2020
The US became the first country to officially exit the Paris climate accord Wednesday, the landmark agreement aimed at protecting the planet from the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.—CNN
UPDATE: October 30, 2020
The Trump administration announced plans to lift restrictions on logging and building roads in a pristine rainforest in Alaska that provides habitat for wolves, bears and salmon. Conservation groups vowed to fight the decision on the Tongass National Forest.
“While tropical rainforests are the lungs of the planet, the Tongass is the lungs of North America,” Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with the Earth Island Institute’s Wild Heritage project told The Washington Post. “It’s America’s last climate sanctuary.”
In a notice released Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it has decided to exempt the Tongass National Forest, the country’s largest national forest, from the so-called roadless rule, protections that ban road construction and timber harvests with limited exceptions. It applies to nearly one-quarter of all U.S. Forest Service lands.—CBS
Enumerating Trump’s Regulatory Rollbacks:
100 Rule Reversals, the Trump Administration has Dismantled Major Climate Policies: “While other administrations have emphasized cutting regulations, calling them burdensome to industries like coal, oil and gas, the scope of actions under Mr. Trump is “fundamentally different,” said Hana V. Vizcarra” [NYT]
Tracking deregulation in the Trump era: “[…] a selection of delayed, repealed, and new rules, notable guidance and policy revocations, and important court battles across eight major categories, including environmental, health, labor, and more.” [Brookings Institution]
Stories Discussing the Environmental Impact of Deregulation:
The Trump Administration Races to Demolish Environmental Protections: “As soon as he entered office, Trump began the environmental reversals that will likely be the most enduring legacy of his administration.” [The Intercept]
Trump Weakens Major Conservation Law to Speed Construction Permits: “[…] in one of the most bitterly contested provisions, the rule would free federal agencies from having to consider the impacts of infrastructure projects on climate change.” [NYT]
Trump’s EPA rewrote the rules on air, water energy: “As Americans cast their ballots in next Tuesday’s election, voters have a choice: continued deregulation that could lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions, worsening symptoms of climate change and mass species die-offs or a reversal of those policies and slate of new governmental restrictions. [USA Today]
We Must Protect Our Environmental Protections: “The Trump administration is dismantling the coal ash rule sentence by sentence. Through a series of ostensibly unremarkable changes — an added exception here, an extended deadline there […]” [Harvard Political Review]
Four More Years of Trump Would Be an Environmental ‘Fiasco’: “While other countries are working to develop more green technologies or abandon fossil fuel energy all together, the United States is steadily moving in the opposite direction. Under the Trump administration, the incentives to invest in and cling to fossil fuels have only grown.” [The American Prospect]
Watch the Story Unfold:
Nowthis: “Trump has rolled back 100 environmental policies since taking office — former EPA Chief Gina McCarthy warns of what the lasting impact could be”
Roll Call: “With Democratic presidential candidates making climate change a top priority and the introduction of dueling Green New Deal and Green Real Deal resolutions in Congress, the debate around environmental policy is more at the forefront than ever in Washington.”
Old Dog Documentaries: “The Trump administration has met this crisis by systematically and efficiently enacting an alarming number of regulatory rollbacks, reversing past policy progress and putting our very existence at risk.”