As America Follows Trump’s Russia Allegations, Environmental Protections Continue to be Dismissed
News| | By Emily Rosenthal
“We’re getting out.”
Over a month has passed since President Trump bid the Paris Climate Agreement farewell. The Commander-in-Chief’s June 1 proclamation sparked criticism from the scientific community and debate among many Americans. In the following two weeks, Americans’ eyes turned to the Senate Intelligence Committee as Former FBI Director James Comey and White House Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered their testimonies.
Meanwhile, political discussion about environmental protections have taken a back seat.
The White House has been taking further measures to lessen environmental protections day by day — and many Americans are not noticing.
Here is a timeline of the nation’s environmental news since exiting the Paris Climate Agreement on June 1.
- On June 9, Trump began a speech about his plans for growth of infrastructure, holding three binders filled with highway environmental review documents. A few minutes later, he reportedly threw the binders on the floor, exclaiming “Nonsense!” The President proceeded to kick the binders out of his way.
- Bear’s Ears National Monument protects 1,351,849 acres of public land in Utah. It contains a vast array of Native American archaeology showcasing tribes’ history. Bear’s Ears is also home to many animal species including black bears, mountain lions, and and peregrine falcons. On June 12, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released a report recommending significantly downsizing protected area in Bears Ears. This would make more land accessible for oil and gas drilling.
- The same day, a proposed rule to protect endangered whales, sea turtles, and dolphins was rescinded. The regulation was intended to limit fishing in areas off the West Coast that are habitats of these endangered species. Entanglement in fishing nets and motor boats pose particular danger to these animals.
- On June 13, the White House announced that it will not adhere to preventative regulations against oil and gas emissions for the next two years.
- In May, multiple members of the 18-person Environmental Protection Agency team were fired. On June 21, several more EPA scientists received notice that their contracts would not be renewed. A large portion of these experts’ work involved global warming research, which President Trump has referred to as a “hoax.” In February, Trump’s selected head of the EPA Scott Pruitt deemed global warming as “a religious belief.” The federal government also plans to slash the EPA’s budget by one-third.
- On June 27, the EPA announced plans to cancel the Clean Water Rule and re-define which oceanic regions will be protected by the government. The regulations of the 2015 Clean Water Rule were instated to fight water pollution. Pruitt says the revision will “provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses.” Environmentalists of The Healing Our Waters Coalition called the decision “counter to public opinion and common sense.”
What happens to environmental protections now?
Reports of a televised “back and forth critique” debating the concept of climate change have surfaced in the past week. Scott Pruitt envisioned and will play a large role in this project, set to take place later this year.