Gardening on the Planet, Ministry of Controversy, Science Says

Not much to celebrate this Earth Day

Ringneck Marsh, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (photo by M. Davis)

Here’s a list that I hope future federal administrations and elected officials will keep in mind. It’s the growing roster of environmental actions that have taken place under the current presidency. Most of them are clearly aimed at limiting federal support for the environment, such as antipollution measures and efforts to curb climate change.

So far, the Trump administration:

•Has done as much as it can to cast doubt on the human role in climate change, and downplaying or just removing the term “climate change” in EPA policy documents

•Is working on a rollback of fuel efficiency standards for cars and light-duty trucks

•Has suspended an Obama-era clean water regulation, asserting that it will craft a new version, intended to be friendlier to developers, farmers, and others with waterways running through properties they are using. It is also weakening regulations that impede the fossil fuel industry from dumping matter such as coal ash near sources of clean drinking water.

•Is continuing to try, with each budget, to cut programs that study and mitigate climate change and research renewable energy. Fortunately, these efforts have not been surviving the budget process. So far.

•Has twice tried to kill the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is helping the Niagara and Buffalo Rivers as well as the lakes, which provide fresh water for 40 million people in the US and Canada.

•Has declared that accidental/incidental bird deaths as a result of power lines, oil spills, and wind turbines no longer violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This decreases incentive for companies to consider steps that would protect wildlife.

•Has halted or suspended studies that look at health risks to those who live near coal sites.

•Is making moves with formerly protected areas like Bears Ears National Monument, which has been reduced in size by 85%. If fossil fuel extraction is in the mix, expect more depredations in protected areas.

There is both more and less to this. Some of these efforts can be stopped in Congress. Others might remain in the planning stages. But one thing is certain: don’t expect the environment to be a priority with this administration. By next year’s Earth Day, we might have even more significant—and damaging—policies.

Posted by on April 24, 2018 at 10:40 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet, Ministry of Controversy, Science Says.
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8 responses to “Not much to celebrate this Earth Day”

  1. Michelle says:

    Elizabeth, thanks for laying it out so clearly, your summary was incredibly helpful. I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe these days, and despairingly, one where I have no clear idea at this moment how to help effect significant change

  2. Laura says:

    The part that gives me hope is the amount of people who are organizing and getting involved. This is one fight no one can afford to sit out. Join your local conservation group, write letters, protest, vote, buy ethical products from ethical companies, plant native plants, whatever you can do — every person that acts makes it harder for corporations and corrupt politicians to stomp all over the environment. But yes, this administration’s environmental record is horrific. 🙁

  3. Jacquelyn McG says:

    I tried to console myself when he was elected, thinking “our system has checks and balances, he won’t be able to do too much damage.” WRONG ! I have joined a number of conservation groups, and I’m just hoping he’ll be a 1-term president, if he even makes it all the way through that term (hope springs eternal).

  4. Mary says:

    Great points. This is one more, explicit and unfixable if not quickly reversed:

    Trump and Republicans in congress are accelerating an unstoppable global warming.

  5. Diane O'Donnell says:

    In strong agreement with all of the above. It is heartening to see how the US caring citizens are stepping up personal actions, and organizational. Loved French President E. Macron making the point for USA to rejoin the Paris accords while addressing Congress. We each have to try a little harder, dig a little deeper to help our Mother Earth. Scott Pruitt MUST go.
    Thank you, as always, Elizabeth.

  6. ellie dorritie says:

    Thank you for a great piece, and great comments. We’ve been on this road to calamity for a very long time. The pace is new, but the direction is not. We should have been panicking many years ago. We should keep on panicking until we get rid of the profit motive that keeps on driving us down this road.