The mantra “jobs, jobs, jobs” is being thrown around to justify this. But the evidence that relaxing environmental regulations will result in jobs is not there. But science (yes, it still exists!) has proved that is not true.
WASHINGTON — Spring! We’re outside longer and longer each day, eager for summer, newly aware of air, water, and nature’s beauty and bounty.
In case you’ve been outdoors so much you think nothing has been happening in your nation’s capital, you should know the environment has been front and center for the White House, the Trump administration and Republicans who control Congress.
Thanks to the Federal Register, Environmental Protection Agency news releases, The New York Times, White House briefings, actions under the Congressional Review Act and President Donald Trump’s executive orders, here’s a partial rundown of the happenings:
The EPA, headed by a guy who hates the agency and sued it repeatedly, has removed climate change information from its website. Also gone is basic scientific information relating to clean power. This is to better “reflect the views of the leadership of the agency.” That would be Scott Pruitt, longtime advocate of big oil and gas.
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The administration is considering withdrawing from the Paris accord agreement on steps to protect Earth from man-made climate change. Other nations are curious to see what the United States, once a leader on cleaning up the environment, will do. So are millions of Americans who face extreme weather regularly because of climate change. (Pruitt says the Paris agreement is terrible.)
Coal companies were going to be required to ascertain that toxic waste from mountaintop removal mining practices did not pollute waterways, such as lakes, streams and rivers. Guess what? That’s not going to happen. Pollute at will, coal companies!
The United States was on the verge of making certain contaminated drinking water would not sicken people. One in four Americans drinks water from contaminated systems. Some of the worst cases are found in Ohio, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Washington. Now, nothing will happen.
Is all this a reward for corporate interests that fund GOP campaigns?
Here’s a case in point: Oil and gas companies were supposed to report methane emissions, a contributor to climate change that is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Pruitt revoked the rule 24 hours after he learned about it.
There was a freeze on giving industry new coal leases on publicly owned land. No longer.
It was going to be against the law to go hunting for predators in protected Alaskan wildlife refuges. No longer.
Altogether, nine major regulations on the environment have been overturned under Trump.
An additional seven are proposed for review or repeal, including protecting wetlands under the Clean Water Act, reviewing the need to increase fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, rolling back limits on toxic discharges from power plants, deciding whether to revoke the national monument status of a number of sites, and considering revoking the ban on offshore drilling off the Atlantic Coast and around Alaska and relaxing regulations on oil rigs. (Didn’t anyone in this administration see “Deepwater Horizon”?) And no more marine sanctuaries.
Seven more have been delayed and are “in limbo,” according to The New York Times, including a promulgation of higher energy efficiency requirements for appliances and federal buildings and withdrawing a rule to help consumers buy more fuel-efficient tires.
It’s true that nobody likes being told what to do. The word “regulation” has unpleasant vibes for free-spirited Americans. It’s also true that it is in our genes to appreciate the environment. This country is so vast and its many millions of acres were so unspoiled for so long that we got spoiled. We thought we could do anything and the land would recover without serious consequences.
But science (yes, it still exists!) has proved that is not true. For years, we were improving and cleaning up superfund sites and drinking water and putting less gunk into the air. We are now reversing those trends. And the real problem is that the developing world, desperate for industrial progress and the riches of exploiting natural resources, is closely watching us. We got ours. Why shouldn’t they get theirs? Especially if we abrogate our past efforts to protect the Earth.
The mantra “jobs, jobs, jobs” is being thrown around to justify this. But the evidence that relaxing environmental regulations will result in jobs is not there.
Sooner or later, we’ll pay the piper. Or our grandchildren will.
Note: Golf courses played by the president are pristine.