ICYMI: The Trump Administration Defends Title of Dirtiest of All Time on the Way Out

Courtnee Connon, 727-744-4163, courtnee_connon@lcv.org

Though Inauguration Day, the light at the end of the dark tunnel, is almost within reach, the Trump Administration is determined to spend their remaining days causing more destruction to our environment and the health of communities, especially communities of color. And they didn’t let up on their toxic agenda over the last couple of weeks.

While many of us were taking some time to reflect on the last year and the pain suffocating our nation, the Trump administration was busy ramming through anti-environment rules that will harm communities and exacerbate environmental racism in our nation.

Here’s what the Dirtiest of All Time has been up to over the past few weeks in a last ditch effort to buddy up to Big Oil and polluters giving more handouts as a parting gift on the way out the door:

  • Despite the ongoing public health crisis exacerbated by a denial of science, the Trump EPA has finalized a scheme that would restrict the use of the best available science in EPA policy making and private sector decisions. This has detrimental impacts on the EPA’s ability to protect communities who are already experiencing the worst impacts of the climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, especially communities of color, from harmful pollution and chemicals.
  • Yesterday, the BLM made the unconscionable decision to open millions more acres of the Alaskan Arctic to oil and gas drilling, making this the administration’s largest effort to expand oil and gas drilling to date, as reported by the  Washington Post.
  • The White House approved the EPA’s lousy copper and lead rule, which gives utilities up to 33 years to replace some of the most contaminated pipes and sets the trigger level at 10 ppb — moves that are unacceptable given that no amount of toxic lead is safe.
  • Trump’s EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, is expected to announce that the EPA will leave unsafe standards for the smog rule in place, choosing not to improve air quality during a time when the air we breathe is more essential than ever. This follows on the heels of the wrong-headed decision to also ignore science and leave in place an unsafe standard for soot, a pollutant associated with increased chance of death from COVID-19.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has moved to weaken enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a law that has been pivotal in holding companies accountable for killing birds from environmental disasters like oil spills — this was especially important during the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
  • Late Tuesday, while many were occupied with the Georgia runoffs, the Army Corps of Engineers finalized a rushed proposal to alter nationwide permits under the Clean Water Act–another giveaway to the oil and gas industry that will make it easier for them to destroy small streams and wetlands and jeopardize our clean water.  
  • In one final attempt to gut the Clean Water Act, the administration is expected to finalize draft guidance that goes against the Supreme Court decision in the recent Maui Clean Water Act case and would narrow the law’s jurisdiction to allow polluters to dump into our surface waters through groundwater.
  • And today, the Interior Department is holding a rushed oil and gas lease sale in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge–trampling on the human rights of the Gwich’in people, exacerbating climate change, and shortchanging taxpayers.  

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