Environmental Policy

President Donald Trump has vowed to roll back many environmental regulations and cut funding for environmental programs that safeguard human and environmental health. Read the list of Trump’s executive orders here. What follows is a list of the damage he and his administration have caused so far:

  • Made an unprecedented move to gut the landmark law protecting America’s wild animals and plants. Trump’s weakened Endangered Species Act will open opportunities for the exploitation of the living world, leading to the demise of the animals and plants the U.S. has worked so hard to protect over the last 50 years. Carl Safina discusses the Trump Administration’s cuts to the Endangered Species Act and what it means for our nation’s wild heritage in this opinion piece for The New York Times. Read it here.
  • Withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. The withdrawal will be effective come 2020, if it is not reversed by him or his successor. Trump’s actions put a serious damper on global efforts to curb climate change, and also will harm the U.S. economy and eliminate, not boost, jobs, if not addressed.
  • Rejected a proposed policy that would reduce the unintended catch of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles in swordfish nets off the U.S. West Coast. Read more here.
  • Promised to eliminate or shrink protected public lands: He has ordered the Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review 27 National Monuments designated by the Antiquities Act over the past 21 years to look for “abuses” of the act.
  • Repealed Obama-era wildlife protection laws, making it legal for hunters in Alaska to shoot hibernating bears; as well as bait, trap and use aircraft to shoot bears, wolves and other predator animals.
  • Purged mention of climate change from White House and State Department websites. Also, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt denies climate change is a human-caused phenomenon.
  • Ordered a freeze on spending, grants and contracts at the Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies.
  • Ordered employees of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Human and Health Services to halt communications–not sending out news releases; creating social media posts, blog entries or website content; or speaking with the news media without consulting senior officials.
  •  Proposed significant cuts to federal agencies that support wildlife conservation and protect vulnerable species.
    • The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would be shrunk by 31%, and its workforce would shrink from 15,000 to just 12,000 employees.
    • Dismissed at least five members of a major EPA scientific review board have been dismissed, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said he is considering replacing them with members of the industries whose pollution the EPA regulates.
    • The fund that pays for the cleanup of contaminated “Superfund” sites–the Hazardous Substance Superfund Account–would sustain a budget cut of 30%, or $330 million.
    • Federal money that provides funds to states and Native American tribes to clean their air and water, and limit exposure to pesticides and toxic substances, and clean up waste would drop by more than 40%.
    • Cleanup and restoration projects for major waterways such as San Francisco Bay, the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay would be stopped entirely.
    • 62 federal programs, including environmental programs that provide homes with access to wastewater treatment and manage infrastructure along the Mexican border, would be eliminated.
  • Promised to expand domestic oil and gas drilling and coal mining, eliminate the Clean Power Plan, pull the United States from the Paris climate agreement, push forward with the Keystone XL pipeline and roll back fundamental environmental protection laws.
  • Overturned a new ban on the use of lead ammunition in wildlife refuges, even though there is no good reason not to ban lead.
  • Signaled a government shutdown, which furloughed employees across all Federal sectors. This has put an abrupt pause on critical scientific research, ecosystem monitoring, parks maintenance and security, employee pay and more. National Parks are being destroyed and Federally employees are not being paid. Demand action be taken to restore function into the U.S. government.

What’s expected to come: President Donald Trump has issued more Executive Orders in his first 100 days in office than any other president since World War II. In 2018, he signed 37 Executive Orders affecting sectors all across the board, from environment to healthcare and more.

Here’s a running list of Trump’s Executive Orders


Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth – 4/10/19
Issuance of Permits With Respect to Facilities and Land Transportation Crossings at the International Boundaries of the United States – 4/10/19
Promoting Active Management of America’s Forests, Rangelands, and Other Federal Lands to Improve Conditions and Reduce Wildfire Risk – 12/21/18
Regarding the Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States – 6/19/18
Regarding Efficient Federal Operations – 5/17/18
Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals – 12/20/17
Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure – 8/15/17
Reviving the National Space Council – 6/30/17
America-First Offshore Energy Strategy – 4/28/17
Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act – 4/26/17
Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth – 3/28/17
Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” Rule – 2/28/17
Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects – 1/30/17
Construction of American Pipelines – 1/24/17
Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline – 1/24/17
Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline – 1/24/17


Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay – 3/28/19
Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay – 12/28/18
Establishing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council – 12/12/18
Establishing the President’s National Council for the American Worker – 7/19/18
Exemption from Executive Order 13658 for Recreational Services on Federal Lands – 5/25/18
Developing Efficient, Effective, and Cost-Reducing Approaches to Federal Sector Collective Bargaining – 5/25/18
Ensuring Transparency, Accountability, and Efficiency in Taxpayer Funded Union Time Use – 5/25/18
Promoting Accountability and Streamlining Removal Procedures Consistent with Merit System Principles – 5/25/18
Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility – 4/10/18
Regarding the Proposed Takeover of Qualcomm Incorporated by Broadcom Limited – 3/12/18
Revising the Seal for the National Credit Union Administration – 12/8/17
Proposed Acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corporation by China Venture Capital Fund Corporation Limited – 9/13/17
Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System – 2/3/17
Fiduciary Duty Rule – 2/3/17


Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition – 2/27/18
Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States – 10/12/17
Establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis – 3/29/17
Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal – 1/24/17


Affording Congress and Opportunity to Address Family Separation – 6/20/18
Resuming the United States Refugee Admissions Program with Enhanced Vetting Capabilities – 10/24/17
Amending Executive Order 13597 – 6/21/17
Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements – 1/30/17
Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States – 1/30/17
Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States – 2/1/17
The Mexico City Policy – 1/23/17


Providing for the Closing of Executive Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government on December 24, 2018 – 12/18/18
Providing for the Closing of Executive Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government on December 5, 2018 – 12/1/18
Strengthening Retirement Security in America – 8/31/18
Task Force on the United States Postal System – 4/12/18
2018 Amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States – 3/1/18
Termination of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity – 1/3/18
Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay – 12/22/17
Continuance of Certain Federal Advisory Committees – 9/29/17
Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity – 5/11/17
Identifying and Reducing Tax Regulatory Burdens – 4/21/17
Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice – 3/31/17
Revocation of Federal Contracting Executive Orders – 3/27/17
Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch – 3/13/17
Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda – 2/24/17
Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs – 2/3/17
Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing – 1/24/17
The Hiring Freeze (Federal) – 1/23/17


Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses – 3/26/19
Taking Additional Steps to Address the National Emergency With Respect to Significant Transnational Criminal Organizations – 3/15/19
Taking Additional Steps to Address the National Emergency With Respect to Venezuela – 1/25/19
Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Nicaragua – 11/27/18
Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela – 11/1/18
Authorizing the Implementations of Certain Sanctions Set Forth in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act – 9/20/18
Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election – 9/12/18
Reimposing Certain Sanctions With Respect to Iran – 8/6/18
Prohibiting Certain Additional Transactions with Respect to Venezuela – 5/21/18
Delegation of Authority to Approve Certain Military Decorations – 4/20/18
Taking Additional Steps to Address the Situation in Venezuela – 3/19/18
Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry – 3/7/18
President’s Continuation of the National Emergency in Respect to Venezuela – 3/2/18
President’s Continuation of the National Emergency in Respect to Ukraine – 3/2/18
Protecting America Through Lawful Detention of Terrorists – 1/30/18
Amending Executive Order 13223 – 10/20/17
Imposing Additional Sanctions with Respect to North Korea – 9/21/17
Imposing Sanctions with Respect to the Situation in Venezuela – 8/25/17
Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain of Resiliency in the United States – 7/21/17
Continuation of the National Emergency Declared in Executive Order 13405 – 6/13/17
Notice Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Yemen – 5/9/17
Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure – 5/11/17
Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States – 3/6/17
Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking – 2/9/17
Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety – 2/9/17
Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers – 2/9/17
Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council – 1/28/17
Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – 1/28/17
Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces – 1/27/17


Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence – 2/11/19
Strengthening Buy-American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects – 1/31/19
Regarding the Establishment of the Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud – 7/11/18
Streamlining and Expanding Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America – 1/8/18
Expanding Apprenticeships in America – 6/15/17
Establishment of the American Technology Council – 5/1/17
Addressing Trade Agreement Violations and Abuses – 4/29/17
Establishment of Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy – 4/29/17
Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America – 4/25/17
Buy American and Hire American – 4/18/17
Establishing Enhanced Collection and Enforcement of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties and Violations of Trade and Customs Laws – 3/31/17
Regarding the Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits – 3/31/17
Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement Trade – 1/23/17


Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities – 3/21/19
Revocation of Reporting Requirement – 3/6/19
National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Suicide – 3/5/19
Supporting the Transition of Active Duty Service Members and Military Veterans Into the Merchant Marine – 3/4/19
Establishing an Exception to Competitive Examining Rules for Appointment to Certain Positions in the United States Marshals Service, Department of Justice – 7/10/18
Excepting Administrative Law Judges from the Competitive Service – 7/10/18
Enhancing the Effectiveness of Agency Chief Information Officers – 5/15/18
Enhancing Noncompetitive Civil Service Appointments of Military Spouses – 5/9/18
Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative – 5/3/18
Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life – 1/9/18
Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption – 12/21/17
Revocation of Executive Order Creating Labor-Management Forums – 9/29/17
Restoring State, Tribal and Local Law Enforcements’ Access to Life-Saving Equipment and Resources – 8/28/17
Expanding apprenticeships in America – 6/15/17
Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protections at the Department of Veterans Affairs – 4/28/17
Establishing a Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure – 7/19/17
Allowing Additional Time for Recognizing Positive Actions by the Government of Sudan and Amending Executive Order 13761 – 7/11/17
Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty – 5/4/17
Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs – 4/27/17
Enforcing Statutory Prohibitions on Federal Control of Education – 4/26/17
Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities – 2/28/17
Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees – 2/3/17
Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice – 2/9/17

More details about theses orders can be found on the White House website.

What all these Executive Orders mean: “Trump, used to getting his own way in his business career, is frustrated that Congress won’t bend to his will. And he isn’t the only one who feels like that. Trump’s filled his administration with guys like Gary Cohn and Wilbur Ross who are used to having their orders followed. They, like Trump, regard Washington and the folks who’ve spent their careers here, as hacks. Team Trump is learning to love the executive order — the tool that gives them instant gratification.” –Alaska Wilderness League

What can we do about this?

        • Write letters to Congress, your local representatives, and even Trump himself.
        • Make your voice heard! Attend public government meetings, as well as rallies and protests.
        • Support politicians who advocate for the environment.
        • Sign petitions supporting stronger environmental regulations and oppose Trump’s plans to wreak ecological harm. 

    Demand action be taken to restore function into the government
    TELL PRESIDENT TRUMP, YOUR SENATORS AND YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE THAT this shutdown is costing American taxpayers money and opportunities to enjoy public lands, programs, and facilities. Tell them that the impact of this shutdown will extend well beyond a return to work as our hardworking refuge staffs will be hard put to make up for this time lost from the job and damage to public lands may become extensive. Tell them that it is a breach of faith to not pay employees, especially those who are still required to work.

    (cover photo: Great South Channel off Martha’s Vineyard. Breaching humpback whale. ©Carl Safina)