The Fate of the Environment in the Age of Trump

Since Trump’s inauguration, friends and colleagues have been asking, “what impact will President Trump have on environmental law?” Along with the rest of the nation (and world), we are waiting to see just how far Trump will push his anti-environment agenda.

Here are a few observations from the dizzying first 90 days:

Each of the first 90 days of the Trump Presidency has presented another attack on federal environmental protection. The President of the United States’ (“POTUS”) war on the environment is well-underway:

  • Tweets calling for “clean beautiful and healthy air – not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit.”
  • The appointment of Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator who contradicts decades of scientific research by EPA and others that conclude human activity is a primary contributor to global warming.
  • POTUS’ use of Executive Orders as a meat cleaver to kill the Waters of the United States Rule, to eviscerate the Clean Power Plan, and to arbitrarily cut regulations.
  • A budget proposal that cuts EPA funding by 31 percent, reduces staff by 21 percent, reduces funding for Superfund cleanups, and eliminates more than 50 programs; axes NASA’s climate change missions; and decreases the Department of the Interior budget by $1.5 billion and eliminates funding for National Historic Sites.

POTUS’ Address to Congress on February 28 paid lip service to an intent “to promote clean air and water,” that is belied by proposed Draconian budget cuts and assaults on air and water protections. His claim that “every American child deserves a much brighter future” is not supported by an agenda of reducing protection of air and water that actually endangers the present and next generations. His Messianic mission to make America great again focuses on increasing corporate profits, buying more F-35s, and building a $21.6 billion Wall (based on an internal Homeland Security report) instead of protecting public health and the environment. POTUS and Pruitt should use a “scalpel” to reduce burdensome regulations and achieve a better balance of environmental and economic interests, a goal that most people can salute.

Former EPA Administrator and Boston’s own Gina McCarthy is rightfully concerned by the proposed cuts at EPA, the edict that bars EPA staff from speaking to the media, and the rejection of science-based decision- making. She hopes States like Massachusetts will lead the way on climate change and environmental issues. We expect Gina will continue to shine a bright light on POTUS’ attacks on environmental protection. We look forward to her address to the Boston Bar Association on May 24, 2017 and her keynote speech at the Environmental Business Council Annual Awards on June 8, 2017.

For the next four years, monitoring the Trump war on the environment will be like watching a train wreck. It will be horrible, but we won’t take our eyes off it. Perhaps our morbid curiosity may help us discover solutions. Maybe POTUS will realize there are jobs and profits in the environmental engineering and science, green energy, and equipment manufacturing sectors that offset reductions in fossil fuel and traditional polluting industries.