Trump’s Undermining of Efforts Against Climate Change

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Janell Wang, Staff Writer

Over the course of his presidency, former President Donald Trump made an innumerable amount of abhorrent decisions, especially with his handling of the current pandemic. One of the biggest things were his efforts against fighting climate change, having cited before that he doesn’t “believe in climate change,” despite all of the scientific evidence pointing toward it. Of course, science never seemed to mean much to a person like Trump. At one point he had even stated that climate change was a “Chinese hoax,” making it sound like some sort of conspiracy theory. This was later retracted by him, but Trump has been known to be quite contradictory with his words and actions.

Trump had adamantly pushed his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a treaty with over 180 countries agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. With President Joe Biden sworn in, the U.S. has rejoined the Paris climate accord.

The Trump administration also moved to roll back former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which intended to cut greenhouse emissions down 32% by 2030. Among Trump’s reasons for doing so were that it was a “war on coal” and “unfair.” However, this isn’t even the full extent of the amount of damage he has caused and left behind. 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not fared well under the Trump administration. The EPA had suffered from budget cuts, large staff depletions with losses amounting to over 600 people since the start of Trump’s presidency, the elimination of a number of programs directed to fighting climate change, the shutdown of many research laboratories, and the reduction of science advisory boards. Regulations that hadn’t been finalized from Obama’s presidency were postponed.

On top of loosening and rolling back over 100 environmental policies, Trump also attempted to open or already approved certain lands for mining, drilling, and logging. Such was the case for two national monuments located in Utah: the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante. Trump was able to open these locations due to the fact that national monuments are managed through executive orders, unlike national parks, which are managed by Congress. Efforts were made to subject the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and over 9.3 million acres of the Tongass National Forest were opened to logging. Both are located in Alaska. Thankfully, this is something that President Biden has addressed and will make amends for.

Such loosening of policies was also extended toward endangered species, specifically making changes to the Endangered Species Act. This no doubt will impact many currently endangered species and is a great cause for concern. Of course, such actions by the previous administration were met with resistance. Many environmentalist groups, Democrats, and health organizations have filed lawsuits, with wins and losses on both sides.

Trump made it clear from the start his intentions toward climate change, being more concerned about the economic costs rather than the planet. He claimed that he “want[ed] the cleanest air with the cleanest water” and “the environment’s very important” to him. Even so, he hardly cared for the environment and rolled back on so many environmental policies for the sake of budget cuts.

As stated before, Trump is a walking contradiction. For someone who cares so much about the economy, he failed to realize the pandemic’s toll on it.

The extensive damage that the Trump administration caused will make it difficult for President Biden and his administration to recover and progress. Despite this, President Biden has taken immediate action from the moment he took office to reverse the damage his predecessor caused.

The environment and well-being of our planet should be one of our top priorities. It’s saddening to think that if efforts are not made, future generations may not know what a clear blue sky looks like or breathe in clean fresh air.

 

Photo courtesy of INDEPENDENT.CO.UK