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Donald Trump: A Fate Worse Than Climate Change

June 10, 2017

In announcing that he was withdrawing US support for the Paris climate agreement, President Donald Trump was simply being consistent with all the other environmental decisions he has made since being sworn in ( even before then, if you include nominating Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency). While giving lip service to ensuring that measures will be taken to safeguard our environment, he has shown more interest in allowing corporations to maximize profits by lifting what he and many others refer to as “unwarranted regulations” which hinder their businesses by imposing costly fines, etc., when they pollute the land, water and air in the course of their endeavors.

While the action Trump set in motion will not actually reach fruition until the day AFTER the 2020 Presidential election, and changes may still be taken at the state and local level (as well as by environmentally conscious business leaders and their corporations) to help achieve the goals set forth in the Paris agreement, our President has chosen to side with Nicaragua and Syria as the only other nations to publicly reject the agreement. Taken in combination with his recent trip abroad and his missteps in dealing with NATO allies, it appears as though he is squandering any pretense of taking a leadership role on the world stage to a degree unprecedented (unpresidented?) since the Second World War.

While Trump has promised to work together with the rest of the world to renegotiate a pact that places less of an economic burden on this country, it is seen as a mere continuation of the foot-dragging delays which had been placed on these negotiations for years – often with US corporate business interests in mind. He has failed to adequately explain his lack of concern over the urgency of the situation as articulated by an overwhelming majority of the scientists who have studied the situation. While he is not alone in his scepticism (assuming that it is, in fact, genuine), the truth is that he is not merely resolving to do nothing, he is actively taking steps to make the situation worse.

Since its creation in 1970, during the Nixon Administration, the EPA has been charged with protecting human safety and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.  Scott Pruitt gained recognition as Oklahoma’s Attorney General by filing lawsuits against the EPA on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, which donated heavily to his campaigns. Since his appointment and confirmation, he appears to see himself as overseeing the agency’s demise. A major step in this direction has been a budget proposal for enormous cuts which would reduce the number of employees  significantly starting with the new budget cycle on October 1st.

For his part, the President has promised to back fossil fuel producers, including a promise to revive the flagging coal industry. Promising to increase the number of jobs in coal mining would be a mixed blessing at best. The jobs traditionally paid fairly decent wages. However, the work tended to be dangerous and highly damaging to the health of many long-term miners. Returning jobs to the coal mines is probably not the best way in which to give these people living wage employment. Nor is it in the best interest of people in general to be subjected to increased pollution from burning coal for energy. Likewise, reversing decisions halting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) aim to increase the amount of Canadian Tar Sands oil and fracked oil and natural gas primarily in the Dakotas, increases the potential for damaging spills and pollution caused by burning those fossil fuels.

Clearly, a need was perceived in this country for an agency to oversee regulation of chemical pollution of the air, water and land in this country long before Climate Change became a public issue. Toxic waste sites were identified decades ago as causes of illnesses and deaths of many of those exposed to these poisons. Acid rain was found to be created by the burning of fossil fuels and caused harm to the forests of the Eastern US. Phosphate runoff was causing serious problems for water systems. Lead in paint and automobile fuel, as well as water pipelines, remains another health risk for millions to this day (Anyone planning to move to Flint anytime soon?). Mercury and pesticides have long-term effects on fish, other wildlife and, ultimately the entire food chain – including humans.

The decision of our President to ignore warnings of impending problems to our way of life if we refuse to alter the direction of our exploitation and abuse of our natural environment for the further enrichment of the minority of oligarchs, hereditary wealthy, corporate executive class is indeed shortsighted. While the wealth and political power of people like Trump can somewhat leave then immune to the ill-effects of their policies and shift the burden more to those who cannot afford to move away from the areas they have befouled with their poisons or the areas which begin to suffer from the devastation of climate change. Toxic waste dumps don’t exist on their resort properties, golf courses or estates. They can afford to have them cleaned up or moved elsewhere – at least for awhile.

In the nonsensical speech announcing his decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement, President Trump said he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris. He is doing neither, but rather continuing to support the interests of his fellow wealthy elites and contributing to the growing economic and social inequality fostered by the system which made him what he is today. Climate change, like the exposure to pollution that he and Scott Pruitt seem hell-bent on foisting on people in Paris, Pittsburgh and everywhere else on earth for the purpose of increasing profits for the already wealthy on a temporary basis, needs to be dealt with to ensure future livability on this planet. Donald Trump does not see his job as being to “Make America Great Again”, but rather to line the pockets of himself, his family and their cronies.

Listening to Donald Trump blatantly disregard the importance of addressing environmental deterioration at the hands of humans by not only openly breaking with an almost-global climate accord but also rolling back environmental safeguards developed over decades of scientific research overseen by politicians of both major political parties is enough to make one nauseous. Pretending that he is taking these actions to improve our lives is just one more example of Donald Trump doublespeak. While he continues to pull his shenanigans, the media is enabling him to distract us from what is – or is not – being done in Congress. None of his proposals so far, in terms of what he has presented in the form of Executive Orders or proposals concerning health care, taxes or budgets, does anything to improve the lives of more people than it makes worse off. Turning the clock back to the days before the creation of the EPA certainly does not do that. It’s merely another example of a President ruling over us instead of a leader trying to help us move in a direction that improves the lives of all within this society and, by extension, the world at large.

Expect more of this in the days ahead. I’ve seen nothing to encourage optimism that Congress will improve its performance anytime soon. While the cameras are turned onto the current round of hearings, they still need to pass a budget and do the rest of the stuff we pay them to do. McConnell and Ryan will no doubt continue to conspire to get as much of their rightwing agenda passed as possible, rewriting legislative rules to suit their need as they go along. We need the EPA now more than ever. We also need an Executive Branch, Congress and Court system that seeks to alleviate inequalities that exist, not exacerbate them as has been going on more openly than ever before since the GOP took control of Congress and Trump became our Emperor, oops, I mean President. We need a government for us, not the Trumps, the Waltons, the Kochs and their peers.

Suggested Further Readings:

Picking apart Trump’s climate lies is unsurprisingly easy. Here are 9 examples.

Cutting Superfund’s budget will slow toxic waste cleanups, threatening public health and property values

‘Destructive Fossil Fuel Puppet’ Trump Ditches Climate Deal with Fact-Free Speech

If Trump Dumps Paris, Says Naomi Klein: "Time for Some People’s Sanctions"

How an Energized People’s Movement Can Counter Trump and Save the Planet

EPA head Scott Pruitt didn’t show up for a speech in Kentucky, but 175 protesters did

Trump’s Superfund Cuts: Doing Less With Less

Demoralized EPA employees brace for “wholesale war on the environment”

Pruitt Offers ‘Incoherent Distortions of Reality’ in Defense of Paris Exit

The 5 Biggest Deceptions in Trump’s Paris Climate Speech

As far as these states are concerned, the Paris climate agreement is still on

Geraldo To Fox And Friends: ‘You Want Your Kid To Live In A Gas Mask?’

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3 Comments
  1. Mills Tuttle permalink

    On Sat, Jun 10, 2017 at 7:24 PM Rcooley123’s Blog wrote:

    > Rick Cooley posted: “In announcing that he was withdrawing US support for > the Paris climate agreement, President Donald Trump was simply being > consistent with all the other environmental decisions he has made since > being sworn in ( even before then, if you include nominating ” >

    Like

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