While members of Congress were back home for August recess, the Trump administration continued to level unprecedented attacks on the environment and public health.
Now, lawmakers face several important decisions in the fall legislative session – will they choose to cement the administration’s anti-climate, anti-environmental protections, and anti-public health agenda? Or will they stand up for the people of this country who overwhelmingly support environmental and health protections, and action on climate?
Here’s a roundup of the shameful and dangerous decisions the Trump administration has made as they continue to tear away dozens of protections for our families’ health and safety. And this was just August:
Trump Administration Waives Environmental Protections To Speed Up Border Wall. The Trump administration moved forward with their plans to construct a wall at the border and made the decision to skip an environmental impact analysis that is required by law. The construction of the wall would put into jeopardy water resources for communities on both sides of the border, federally protected lands, clean air, and the lives of hundreds of endangered species. The wall is also likely to have a large carbon footprint, exacerbating the harmful effects of climate change.
Trump Administration Works To Eliminate Protections For Public Lands; Bears Ears National Monument Could Be Shrunk by 90 Percent. Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted secret proposals to President Trump that, according to press reports, would shrink five national monuments, including Bears Ears National Monument, and open the door to “new mining or drilling” on these critical public lands. The move was widely criticized by the environmental community, outdoor industry, tribes and others — communities across the country submitted more than 2.7 million public comments voicing their concerns with any attempt to eliminate protections of any of our national monuments.
EPA Administrator Pruitt’s Shady Behavior Continued. Over August, Pruitt “broke protocol and gave a political appointee [with no scientific background] the direct authority to approve or deny grant requests,” potentially violating the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy. Meanwhile, on Pruitt’s “listening tour” he put lobbyists ahead of the public and media, refusing access to reporters. And his cozy relationship with the industries he regulates and the regulatory actions he takes on their behalf prompted more questions from national media.
Trump Ends Climate Advisory Panel. In another show of Trump’s anti-climate agenda, as reported by the Washington Post, the administration disbanded a group that was helping “policy makers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning….while many state and local officials have pressed the federal government for more concrete guidance on how to factor climate change into infrastructure, President Trump has moved in the opposite direction.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also axed the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change.
Trump Increases Support for Coal Industry. After staff leaked a draft of the Department of Energy’s electric grid study in July, a month later, Secretary Rick Perry released the final version, which, with some scrubbing and editing, now contradicts the leaked report’s findings. Perry’s manipulated report claims that renewable energy sources are a threat to our grid resilience, and, as one might expect, it also champions coal, laying groundwork to support the ailing industry.
Department of Interior Rolls Back Rule Requiring Energy Companies To Pay Fair Share on Public Lands. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced his decision to roll back an Obama-era rule that required energy companies mining and drilling on federal lands to pay taxpayers a fairer share for the use of public resources. The change not only endangers the use of public lands, but also costs taxpayers between 60 and 75 million annually.
Donald Trump Signs Executive Order To Reverse Environmental Safeguards – Including Flood Protections – For Infrastructure Projects. President Trump signed an executive order rolling back an Obama-era rule that put environmental protections in place for new infrastructure projects. The original rule was aimed at mitigating the harmful effects of climate change and ensuring that new projects could withstand the stronger weather patterns we may face in years to come, such as increased flooding.
EPA Rolls Back Rule Limiting Toxic Waste Release in Water. The EPA put into motion the reversal of Obama-era limits on industrial wastewater from power plants dumped in to U.S. waterways. The standards seek to restrict pollutants like arsenic and mercury that are linked to deformities in fish and cancer in humans. The administration’s decision is a favor to industry at the expense of safe water.
Trump’s EPA May Be Weakening Chemical Safety Law. Congress passed bipartisan legislation last year that strengthened the EPA’s authority to regulate toxic chemicals and required companies to prove new chemicals are safe before they hit the market. But after appointing a former chemical industry lobbyist to oversee implementation, Scott Pruitt’s EPA is trying to undermine the new law by insisting that they only need to review whether chemicals are safe for their “intended uses” – a huge loophole that could leave families exposed to toxic chemicals.
Trump Administration Halts Study on Health Impacts of Mining. The Interior Department ordered the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to immediately halt a study on the health risks mountaintop removal to people living near coal mine sites in central Appalachia. Mountaintop removal mining is believed to pollute ground water with toxins. The decision places the interests of industry groups above the health and safety of communities.