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.
  • Began construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, threatening critical habitat for wildlife, displacing animals and wasting water. Safina Center “Kalpana Chawla ‘Launchpad’ Fellow” Erica Cirino has written about the issue of water use in building the border wall for The Revelator
  • 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  • Repealed Obama-era wildlife protection laws, making it legal for hunters in Alaska to shoot hibernating bears; as well as bait, trap and use aircraft to shoot bears,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. As of October 2019, he’s signed 130 Executive Orders affecting sectors all across the board, from environment to healthcare and more.

You can find a full list of Trump’s Executive Orders on the website of the Federal Register.

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)