Statement: Trump Uses Crises To Further Gut Environmental Protections
Helena, MT – The Trump administration is using the fact that Americans are focused on the pandemic, economic crisis, and protests over police brutality and racism to sneak by a string of misguided and corrupt decisions that will further undermine protections for our clean air, lands, waters, and wildlife. In response, Accountable.US spokesperson Jayson O’Neill issued the following statement:
“President Trump is using the cover of a pandemic and a nationwide call for action on police brutality and racism to reward his corporate pals. He should be ashamed. The administration thinks no one will notice as it undermines protections for our clean air, lands, waters, and wildlife. Their actions will only exacerbate the growing environmental crisis during these already difficult times.”
Just this week, the Trump administration undermined state and tribal governments by curtailing their right to object to federal energy and pipeline projects, issued a sweeping executive order that would waive bedrock environmental laws and reviews, and illegally eviscerated another national monument.
MONDAY, JUNE 1: Trump’s EPA Finalized a Rule Restricting States’ Ability to Block Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Construction Like Oil and Gas Pipelines Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. “The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule Monday curtailing the rights of states, tribes and the public to object to federal permits for energy projects and other activities that could pollute waterways across the country. The move, part of the Trump administration’s push to weaken environmental rules it sees as standing in the way of new development, upends how the United States applied a section of the Clean Water Act for nearly a half century. The energy industry hailed the change as a way to speed up pipelines and other projects, while environmentalists warned it could undercut state and tribal efforts to safeguard rivers and drinking water. The new rule would set a one-year deadline for states and tribes to certify or reject proposed projects — including pipelines, hydroelectric dams and industrial plants — that could discharge pollution into area waterways. It also would limit any reviews to include only water quality impacts, based on a more narrow definition the Trump administration finalized last year.” [Washington Post, 6/01/20; EPA Press Release, 6/01/20]
THURSDAY, JUNE 4: Trump Signed an Executive Order to Allow Agencies to Waive Key Protections in the National Environmental Policy Act to Expedite Infrastructure Projects Like Pipelines and Highway Construction While the EPA Proposed a Rule to Effectively Limit the Strength of Future Air Pollution Controls. “The Trump administration, in twin actions to curb environmental regulations, moved on Thursday to temporarily speed the construction of energy projects and to permanently weaken federal authority to issue stringent clean air and climate change rules. President Trump signed an executive order that calls on agencies to waive required environmental reviews of infrastructure projects to be built during the pandemic-driven economic crisis. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new rule that changes the way the agency uses cost-benefit analyses to enact Clean Air Act regulations, effectively limiting the strength of future air pollution controls. Together, the actions signal that Mr. Trump intends to speed up his efforts to dismantle environmental regulations as the nation battles the coronavirus and a wave of unrest protesting the deaths of black Americans in Georgia, Minnesota and Kentucky. They will also help define the stakes in the 2020 presidential election, since neither effort would likely survive a Democratic victory.” [New York Times, 6/04/20]
FRIDAY, JUNE 5: Trump Is Set to Open Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to Commercial Fishing, Despite It Having Been Designated a Protected Marine Monument in 2016. “During a visit to Maine on Friday, President Donald Trump is expected to open a sweeping protected site off the East Coast to commercial fishing ― a move that goes against the very purpose of designating a marine monument. Established by the Obama administration in 2016, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument encompasses more than 4,900 square miles off the East Coast and is home to ancient seafloor canyons and seamounts, endangered whales, deep ocean corals and numerous migratory fish species. Rolling back the restrictions on that area, the liberal Center for American Progress estimated, would eliminate nearly 85% of ocean protections along the United States outside the remote western Pacific. […] It is unclear if Trump’s proclamation will also shrink the size of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument, although critics argue that opening the site to commercial fishing undermines the very intent of the designation. The site and other U.S. marine monuments were established to protect resources and restore the health of the ocean, including fish stocks.” [Huffington Post, 6/05/20]