Trump’s Environmental Regression


Sarah Sander

Following Obama’s presidency we have finally began to do our part in preserving the environment, unfortunately, all of that has halted coinciding with President Trump’s election.

A hoax. President Donald Trump once called climate change a hoax fashioned by China, tweeting “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”. On Tuesday March 28th, 2017 President Trump signed an executive order at the Environmental Protection Agency, aiming to reduce the government’s involvement with climate regulations and encouraging the prioritization of American jobs. The Director of the Office Management and Budget, Mulvaney, stated “As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: We’re not spending money on that anymore, We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.” Specifically, this executive order will overturn six, if not more, of Obama’s executive orders focused on climate change and created specifically in order to minimize carbon emissions. Among these orders was one of Obama’s from November 2013, which required the government to prepare for the impact of climate change and its growing threat to our country.

  A government official stated, “I think the President has been very clear that he is not going to pursue climate change policies that put the US economy at risk. It is very simple”. Trump’s decision isn’t coming out of nowhere, as he stated in 2016 that he would “cancel all wasteful climate change spending from Obama”. However, despite the predictability of President Trump’s actions, this executive order has only validated the greatest fear of climate change advocates and in turn elevated the anger of countless citizens. One of the most concerning occurrences is a White House official’s argument that the most efficient way to protect our environment is through a strong economy, specifically mentioning how countries such as India and China have efficiently done so. However, this argument is profoundly disturbing, considering India and China have the worst air pollution in the entire world, air pollution being the leading environmental cause of death. Pollution in general has caused over 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide in just 2015; India being 25.7% of those while China is 26.1%, both countries seeing about 1.1 million premature deaths due to their air pollution in 2015India’s air pollution is increasing rapidly, having half of the world’s most polluted cities .While the numbers are significantly smaller than those for China or India, Americans also face premature death due to pollution, around 88,000 in 2015. So, why would we ever aspire to follow in the footsteps of these particular countries? Can we risk loosing even more lives to pollution? 

Jobs have risen in priority over the well being of our Earth, which in turn will affect the health of countless Americans. Air pollutants are mostly  carcinogens and can put people at risk for cancer. ALso, high levels of air pollution are closely associated with the increase of heart problems. As expected, it isn’t just the American people who are aghast at Trump’s environmental actions, but also environmental experts, such as Tom Steyer, the president of NexGen Climate, who stated “These actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American.Trump is deliberately destroying programs that create jobs and safeguards that protect our air and water, all for the sake of allowing corporate polluters to profit at our expense.” Additionally, CEO of the World Resources Institute, Andrew Steer, claimed that this executive order demonstrates how Trump is “failing a test of leadership to protect Americans’ health, the environment and economy.”

All of this dismay is well-founded. Seventy percent of the oil utilized in the United States comes from transportation, average american cars (passenger cars and light trucks) make up more than 60% of this oil demand and the massive carbon pollution that goes along with it. Trump’s executive order rejects the US Environmental Protection Agency’s clean car vehicle emissions standards, set in 2012. These standards would save 2 million barrels of oil per day by the year 2025. That’s equivalent to taking 53 million cars off the road for an entire year, reducing climate pollution by 5 billion tons, and saving consumers more than $1 trillion at the gas pump. Thousands of jobs could be lost. For example, in Michigan more than 200 companies and around 70,000 workers are focused on building clean vehicle components. It’s rather shocking, considering President Trump’s focus on the economy, that he would risk being the reason that 70,000 jobs were terminated, when he could be simultaneously helping both the economy and the environment. Even Trump’s once loyal supporters tend to disagree with him on this one. A survey discovered that a majority of Trump voters support continuing or even strengthening current climate change policies and forcing companies to reduce their carbon pollution. 

Trump’s actions are truly disgraceful, considering the progress various presidents have made towards bettering our environment. In as early as 1916, President Woodrow Wilson demonstrated his concern for our Earth. He signed legislation that created the National Park Service which cared for over 84 million acres of land. Then, in 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke of climate change, saying “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide”. President Jimmy Carter did his part in 1979 when he was the first president to install solar panels on the roof of the White House. President George W. Bush, who had a history of silence regarding environmental issues, installed a rooftop solar photo-voltaic system as well as two solar thermal systems to heat water. Finally, President Obama did more than his fare share of work beginning in 2013 with solar panels, later making the protection of the environment and combating climate change the focal point of his presidential legacy. Following the plethora of progress we have made as a nation with both climate change and environmental issues in general, President Trump is regressing at a rapid pace.