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What Trump's recent legislations mean for the environment

By Amber WangMay 1, 2017

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On November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected as the President of the United States. Many ideas and goals were promised in his campaign—such as a repeal to Obamacare and the suspension of the Syrian refugee program—but there were many things that were also implied. Among the rising normalization of racism, sexism, and homophobia, citizens were also worried about the implications of Trump’s career promises for the environment. 

During his presidential campaign, Trump made several promises to overturn Obama’s climate policies and revealed his favoritism towards the fossil fuel industry. He also denied global warming which alarmed many environmentalists and National Park representatives, resulting in a social media resistance from various National Parks that led to current science protests and marches in cities such as Washington, D.C. and New York City. 

Despite growing protests, Trump has also proposed legislations that would accelerate the construction and use of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, which run under the sacred burial grounds of Native Americans residing in Iowa and the Dakotas. The Keystone XL Pipeline was approved in March which could lead to an increase in carbon emissions along with water contamination. Not only does this undermine the Native American’s rich culture and background, but it also puts them in danger of their water becoming polluted.

In February, many people started to notice big company CEO’s and businessmen being named to office such as ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson as the Secretary of State and Scott Pruitt as the EPA Chief. This meant not only would the government have ties to the big oil company, but a member of that company would be making influential decisions that could impact the environment to his liking. Further making things worse, Pruitt denied carbon dioxide’s obvious role in the Earth’s climate change. Even if scientists oppose this view, Pruitt’s status gives him a certain level of authority to those that are perhaps not as educated.

In March, the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology removed the word “science” from its mission statement, resulting in a more toned down goal from its previous mission. Further attacking science and climate change initiatives, Trump proposed heavy budget cuts to U.S. science and environmental agencies, opting instead to raise defense spending. In not taking scientific investigations seriously, Trump has the ability to halt further discoveries made in an attempt to reverse climate change. 

The biggest action by Trump was perhaps his signing of an executive order that left most of Obama’s work on climate change undone. This executive order favored coal, downplayed the impact of carbon emissions, and overturned the regulation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. 

In April, discussions for the extraction of the United States from the Paris Agreement began with an ultimate decision that will come out in late May. The Paris Agreement was made within the UNFCCC and deals with the emission of greenhouse gases, along with its adaption and finances. Pulling out of this deal would send a message to other countries that the U.S. does not take climate change seriously and doubts the process of reversing it, along with protecting its interests above all else. 

In taking these actions, President Trump has undermined all research and advances that have been made in combatting climate change and humanity’s impact on the environment. Although the physical limitations put on these projects are disastrous, the mental state Trump has enforced is one of ignorance and nonchalance in that science and environment agencies can have their budgets cut and nothing would happen, that legislation can be passed with only business and money in mind. To reverse what Trump has created, the U.S. needs to listen to the voices of its scientists and environmentalists—those who are experts on the subject—rather than oil tycoons and Wall Street businessmen