President Trump, or, ‘Climate Change Denier in Chief’ | Opinion
By JEFF TITTEL
Actions speak louder than words, and during President Trump’s first days in office, he has eliminated work on climate change, approved dangerous pipelines, and stopped funding and programs at the EPA. Trump’s first actions have killed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which has eliminated environmental reviews of governmental actions on their impact on climate change. This includes any rules, regulations, funding and permits for projects like pipelines and oil and gas drilling. The problem is this is just the beginning of his administration’s environmental rollbacks. Between his inaugural address and his first executive actions, our president has basically declared a war on the environment.
Instead of “transferring the power to the people,” Trump is transferring power from the people to Big Oil, Big Gas, and the billionaires. He has reversed President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, while expediting the environmental reviews for pipelines like Dakota Access. This means for state like New Jersey his actions will impede our fights against PennEast and Pilgrim pipeline in New Jersey. People in Hunterdon and Bucks County who had ‘No PennEast’ signs alongside ‘Trump’ signs should know that if it is up to Donald Trump, the pipeline will be pushed through. The Delaware River Basin Commission may even lift the ban on fracking under this Administration, while approving permits for pipelines like PennEast. The South Jersey Gas pipeline through the Pinelands could also be at risk to Trump’s agenda given that the National Park Service has a vote in the decision.
In another assault on the environment, Trump froze regulations and funding at the EPA, while planning to cut the budget by $800 million. By taking aim at the budget, Trump is clearly taking aim at environmental programs. With New Jersey having the most Superfund Sites in the nation, Trump’s actions may put clean-ups throughout the state on hold. By taking away money from states, it will disrupt water quality testing, while stopping efforts to clean up our water supply and retrofit lead pipes. It will mean there will be no money going to resiliency along the shore, restoring the Delaware Bayshore, planting dunes, or upgrading sewer plants. New Jersey could lose money to deal with stormwater, climate change, and implement the Clean Water Act. This freeze is not in a vacuum, it is part of his plan to get rid of these programs and roll back forty five years of environmental progress.
The Trump Administration has even gagged EPA staff from speaking about climate change and removed the website’s climate change page. Trump said climate change is a hoax invented by China, but he is now making us look like a joke because he is the only internationally world leader who is a climate-denier. Instead of coming into office to deal with major issues like dealing with healthcare, re-building our roads and bridges, or create jobs, he is actually putting us at risk. These actions will actually hurt the economy by eliminating green jobs. Instead of the Commander in Chief, our president is really the ‘Climate Denier in Chief.’
While Trump said in his inaugural address that he plans to “harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow,” his plans will do the opposite. He wants to block offshore wind and getting rid of tax credits for clean energy by continuing to promote fossil foolishness of the past. He has promised to eliminate the historic Clean Power Plan, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate impacts like flooding, sea level rise, and severe storms. He even will get rid of resiliency projects that make us stronger against the next storm and allow building in areas vulnerable to sea level rise. In a state that has been so devastated by climate change and Hurricane Sandy, what Trump is doing is reckless.
Instead of draining the swamp, Trump is going to fill it with pipelines and oil rigs. His Cabinet is stacked with gas and oil industry people like Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt who is in lock step with corporate polluters. Pruitt has sued against regulations that he is now in charge to implement like the Clean Water Rule, Mercury Air Toxic Rule as well as the Clean Power Plan. Trump says he wants to heal our country, but he can’t when he wants to hurt the environment, economy, and public health.
Trump’s words are no longer words, they are serious actions that impact all of us. Instead of bringing us together, he is dividing us since the majority of Americans want clean air, clean water, and action on climate change. That is why we the people throughout the United States must stand united against Trump’s rollbacks and destructive energy policies. We have fought to protect the environment for the last 45 years and we must do so again now.
Jeff Tittel is the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
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