|January 21, 2019|
Climate-change denier Donald Trump has rolled back numerous environmental regulations during first two years in office
|Sunday marked the two year-anniversary of President Donald Trump taking office. The president celebrated the occasion by speaking out against climate change, tweeting about the cold weather on the East Coast of the U.S. before adding that it "wouldn't be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!"|
Through his years in office, the president has repeated on numerous occasions that he believes climate change is a "hoax" and has called into question the science behind multiple government and United Nations reports about the imminent dangers of carbon emissions. Trump has also made it clear that energy production, particularly coal and oil drilling, is the top priority of the federal agencies he oversees, and has in some cases removed references to climate change from their websites and mission statements.
The president, who also believes that the dangers of asbestos are exaggerated, and that exercise depletes the human body like a battery, has worked alongside the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Interior to roll back environmental and scientific regulations that limit pollutants put into the environment and the toxins workers can be exposed to.
Below is a list of just some of the rollbacks and new rules around climate change and the environment that the Trump administration has implemented since taking office in January of 2017.
Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement
In June of 2017, less than six months after taking office, the president stood in the White House Rose Garden with then-EPA director Scott Pruitt and announced that he would be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, a pact between multiple countries to attempt to lower carbon emissions and to regularly report back on what they're doing to fight climate change.
The president called the Paris agreement "an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries." Because of the way the agreement was set up, the U.S. cannot actually withdraw until after the 2020 elections, so the move was largely symbolic of the president's plans around addressing climate change.
Drilling on federal lands/Offshore drilling
The president, alongside then-DOI director Ryan Zinke, worked to open up federal lands for more oil and energy drilling and to limit the regulations stopping private energy companies from doing so. In January of 2018, Zinke announced plans to open up all coastal waters to offshore drilling and in the same year announced the largest lease of federal land to energy producers in the history of the United States.
The DOI ended an Obama-era rule that banned coal companies from leasing new federal land and lifted another rule that required coal companies to prove they could clean up any pollution they left on public lands.
Protection for national monuments like Bears Ears was also cut and drilling was allowed on the once-safeguarded lands.
Rolling back greenhouse gas regulations
The Trump administration has rolled back a number of rules meant to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which are known to cause climate change.
The EPA ended a 2015 rule banning the use of hydrofluorocarbons, known greenhouse gasses, from air-conditioners and refrigerators. The Transportation Department stopped tracking tailpipe emissions on federal highways. The EPA limited rules around tracking of pollution and gas emissions for refineries, and in an executive order, the president said that federal agencies no longer have to consider greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews.
President Donald Trump has long said that he believes the effects of asbestos exposure to be greatly exaggerated. "I believe that the movement against asbestos was led by the mob, because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal. Great pressure was put on politicians, and as usual, the politicians relented," he wrote in his 1997 book, The Art of the Comeback. Once installed, the president said, asbestos was "100 percent safe."
In June of 2018, the EPA announced that it would not consider the health risks of asbestos that is already in the environment when evaluating any danger associated with the chemical. "The end result will be a seriously inadequate risk evaluation that fails to address major contributors to the heavy and growing toll of asbestos mortality and disease in the United States," said Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, in a statement. Nearly 15,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases.
In January of 2019, the EPA announced a proposal to roll back regulations around the emission of mercury into the air by coal plants. The rule change would allow emission standards to be measured through a monetary lens instead of a strictly health-based one.
The rule change would not consider any harm done by mercury emission that is not easily quantifiable. "The administrator has concluded that the identification of these benefits is not sufficient, in light of the gross imbalance of monetized costs," wrote the EPA.
Mercury exposure is known to cause cancer, developmental problems and respiratory ailments. "These protections have been incredibly successful in reducing this potent neurotoxin," said The League of Conservation Voters Vice President for Government Affairs Sara Chieffo in a statement. "It is clear Wheeler is only listening to coal barons, not the dire warnings from his own agency that this move could cause over 11,000 premature deaths. Or even the industry who has already invested in successfully complying."
The Trump administration has proposed rolling back wetland and waterway protections granted under the Clean Water Rule. The change would alter the definition of "waterways of the U.S." to omit intermittent or ephemeral springs, leaving them without protection from industrial pollutants. One hundred seventeen million people living in every state of the country drink and use potable water from these sources, according to the EPA.
The Trump administration has said the protections are too difficult and expensive for farmers who have these springs on their properties to comply with.