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Environmental Policy

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

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

Many states, local governments and institutions disagree with Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. Add your name to this petition urging U.S. governors and mayors to stick to the accord: https://act.credoaction.com/sign/standwithparis?sp_ref=309929922.4.181318.f.578189.4&referring_akid=.7742816.C5XY72&source=fb_share_sp

  • Trump proposed the elimination of the 40-year-old national Marine Mammal Commission in 2018. It only costs each American about one cent per year to run this commission. Yet Trump is targeting it as something to slash to save money–despite its necessity as an independent source of oversight of government activities that can affect marine mammals. The proposed cut would also eliminate the Prescott Grant, a fund used to cover the costs associated with rescuing marine mammals. Read this message from the committee’s chair. Tell Trump he should continue funding this important committee by emailing him with this form.
  • Trump has 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. You can help by supporting the Marine Mammal Commission (see previous), which would help ensure laws like this one that was rejected get passed.
  • 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.Write to Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Here’s a sample letter:”All American parks, monuments and cultural or historic sites are important and are a part of the American story. I am opposed to any attempt to eliminate or reduce protections for national monuments and I urge you to support our public lands and waters and recommend that our current national monuments remain protected.The short review you are undertaking undermines decades of work that local communities have invested to protect American public lands for future generations, especially Bears Ears National monument, which is the first on the list for this review. Five Tribal nations, Hopi, Navajo, Uintah and Ouray Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni tribes came together, for the first time ever, to protect their shared sacred land by advocating for Bears Ears to be made a national monument. Now the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is working to protect the national monument, and maintain its integrity. PUBLIC LANDS BELONG IN PUBLIC HANDS. It is your responsibility as the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to oversee nation’s natural places. Please work to protect rather than harm these ecologically, culturally and historically important sites.”You may mail your written comments to: Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20240. Online comments may be submitted via regulations.gov by searching for “DOI-2017-0002” or by using this direct link.
  • 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.

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. By Friday, April 28, he will have signed at least 32 of these orders, affecting everything from healthcare to the environment. Here are some orders he’s expected to sign in the near future:

  • Major cuts in federal funding to environmental quality monitoring programs: Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would eliminate the U.S. Sea Grant, one of the country’s most important programs for monitoring coastal environmental health.
  • “Executive Order Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protections at the Department of Veterans Affairs”: This Executive Order will create an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection in the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Office will guide the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in evaluating VA managers or employees for discipline or termination if they fail to carry out their duties in helping U.S. veterans. The Office will also pinpoint barriers to the Secretary’s authority to put the well-being of our veterans first.
  • “Executive Order for a Review of Designations under the Antiquities Act”: Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president is allowed to declare federal lands of historic or scientific value to be ‘National Monuments’ and thus restrict the types of uses to which those lands can be put. The Antiquities Act Executive Order mandates that the Department of the Interior review previous monument designations and suggest changes or modifications to monument proclamation legislation.
  • “Executive Order Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy”:  The America First Energy Executive Order mandates a review of the locations available for off-shore oil and gas exploration and of certain rules about off-shore oil and gas exploration.
  • “Executive Order Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America”:  Under the Agriculture and Rural Task Force Executive Order, an interagency task force will be created to examine the concerns of rural Americans and suggest policy changes to address them.

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

Environment
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
Financial
Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System – 2/3/17
Fiduciary Duty Rule – 2/3/17
Health
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
The Mexico City Policy – 1/23/17
Immigration
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
Other
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
Reviving the National Space Council – 6/30/17
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
Regulation
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
Security
Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain of Resiliency in the United States – 7/21/17
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
Trade
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
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.