The first two weeks of President Trump’s term in office has left me feeling absolutely uneasy about the future of American climate and environmental policy over the next 4 years.
And we’ve only just begun.
Glancing through the first two weekly round of headlines (here and here) shows a nearly unprecedented attack on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A funding scare for all EPA projects, notably those impacting state universities and Native American tribes that benefit from said grants; a federal hiring freeze that affected nearly all executive agencies, including the EPA; threats to abolish the EPA stemming from Myron Ebell, head of EPA transition team; a gag order on all EPA and USDA officials from speaking to the press on all science or publications; an executive order impacting federal agency regulatory rule processes, notably the EPA and its controversial regulations on clean water and point-source pollution, air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions allowances, and toxic waste disposal for businesses and corporations (all deemed too strict for business expansion); not to mention the words ‘climate change’ being completely erased from the White House’s official policy pages and replaced by a robust oil and gas ‘America First’ energy policy.
Congress has had its ax to grind with the EPA and climate-related policy in the last two weeks, as well.
Highlights include: An Obama-era coal-clean-up rule rescinded by Congress; legislation introduced into the House of Representatives to ‘terminate’ the EPA entirely; legislation introduced to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands, deemed of ‘no purpose’ to taxpayers — but later retracted due to public outrage (notably from the backcountry community); and Secretary of State Trump nominee Rex Tillerson (with long-standing ExxonMobil employment and connections, and little-to-none government experience) confirmed by Congress to head American climate policies overseas.
I had my concerns coming into this presidency that Trump, his cabinet, and his crew would not be kind to American environmental protection standards, as an infamous and world-renowned businessman.
Business and climate regulations/policy have been historically at odds with one another, although the economics of climate change are as important as ever (see Risky Business for further analysis on this topic).
However, I did not anticipate such desecration and widespread fear for climate science and climate policy in a matter of 14 days.
I think this presidency is a real wake-up call for climate scientists all around the world, and for those of us who call ourselves environmentalists. Already alarmed, scientists across the country are mobilizing to march on Washington, to advocate for science-based policy, including in regards to the protection of our shared environment.
We, as citizens of this United States democracy, who care about environmental protection and science-based fact sharing, must remain vigilant and active participants in this era of heightened concern for the climate. Now is not the time to become complicit and accept Congressional word as the only option for law.
If it means something to you, write about it. Study it. Follow through. I’m now signed up for Congress alerts on legislation, rule-changes, and committee hearings on environmental issues I care about. Information is out there — both deceptive and legitimate. I’m advocating for education and awareness, and a strong commitment to safeguard our planet for future generations.
See you in two weeks,