As recently as January 23, 2017, Donald Trump declared, “I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment.” After doing some research, it appears that his claim was completely unfounded. In fact, only one of Trump’s golf courses in New Jersey was given an award by the Metropolitan Golf Association in 2007. That same golf course, however, was later cited for environmental violations. It is safe to say, therefore, that Trump is not a ‘big person’ when it comes to the environment. In fact, Donald Trump has described man-made climate change as a “hoax” on multiple occasions.
Unfortunately, Trump’s policies look to be quite devastating towards environmental protection. He has said that he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline, rescind the Clean Power Plan, expunge a stream and wetland protection rule, and end a temporary moratorium on the leasing of federal coal reserves. He’s also made general promises to lift restrictions on energy development (i.e. mining and drilling) on public lands. Trump has already signed four presidential memoranda and one executive order which will negatively impact environmental protections. Here is a look at just some of the most recent actions Trump has taken in his short time in office which will have a negative and lasting impact on environment:
- Memorandum Regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline: The Keystone XL Pipeline was a 1,179 mile pipeline which spanned the border between Canada and the U.S. The project was rejected by the Obama administration due to the uproar over the negative environmental implications. However, in his presidential directive, Trump invited the pipeline company, Transcanada, to “promptly resubmit its application.” He also ordered the Secretary of State to make a decision within 60 days, thereby fast-tracking existing procedural requirements. With Tillerson recently confirmed as Secretary of State, it’s hard to imagine that the application will be denied.
- Memorandum Regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline: Trump wrote a memorandum directing the Secretary of the Army to “review and approve in an expedited manner” the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been the subject of many protests by Native Americans and environmentalists because of the potential for an environmental catastrophe and the fact that it crosses Native American lands. Due to the fact that the pipeline crosses waterways, it needs approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There is a flagrant conflict of interest regarding this situation because Trump owned stock in Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, at one point. His campaign said that he divested himself of the stock last August. However, this has yet to be confirmed.
- Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce: Trump wrote a memorandum to the Secretary of Commerce instructing that a plan be created which would mandate American-made steel for all new, expanded, or retrofitted pipelines in the United States. Trump put a deadline on this plan of six months.
- Memorandum to All Federal Agencies Regarding Manufacturing Regulations: Trump wrote a memorandum to all federal agencies instructing them to review manufacturing regulations. The Secretary of Commerce is required to seek input from the public on how to streamline those rules for 60 days, with a report to Trump containing proposals 60 days after that.
- Executive Order Fast-Tracking Approval for “High-Priority Infrastructure Projects”: Under this executive order, any governor or Cabinet member can ask for a project to be designated as “high priority”. If the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality approves, then the project will go to the front of the line for any agency required to review and approve the project. “This is the expediting of environmental reviews and approvals for high-priority infrastructure projects,” Trump said. “We can’t be in an environmental process for 15 years if a bridge is falling down.”
With less than two weeks in office, Trump is already beginning to work towards undermining environmental safeguards which help slow down climate change that is already occurring at an unmanageable pace. That does not mean that there is no hope, however. Now is the time to become active and get involved. Call your local representatives, participate and donate to environmental nonprofits, and hold Trump accountable for his actions!
Written by Victoria Balderworth