Donald Trump has made some sweeping changes since he was sworn in as President of the United States on January 20, 2017. Trump hasn’t held the office more than a month yet, but his administration and Congress have made decisions that will have a lasting impact on our environment. With the constant updates in the headlines over Trump’s latest executive orders, it can be hard to keep up with the changes. If you need help staying up to date, we’re to help you stay informed on the environmental impacts.
Environmental Policy Watered Down on White House Website
The day Trump was inaugurated, the White House website was scrubbed clean of Obama’s environmental policies and replaced with a focus on energy production. During his campaign, Trump vowed to focus on energy independence and scale back on the Environmental Protection Agency.
There were also no traces of climate change on the website, which was a prominent cause under the Obama administration. Website visitors were redirected to a broken link: “The requested page ‘/energy/climate-change’ could not be found.” The new administration wants to eliminate “harmful and unnecessary policies” such as the Climate Action Plan.
Endangered Species Affected by the Wall
Not only will the 1,300 mile wall prevent humans from crossing the Mexico-US border, but many endangered species will be cut off. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are more than 100 species between California and Texas that are listed as threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Homeland Security had power to quickly build the existing fence, in 2006 under President Bush, so there isn’t much research on the environmental impacts a barrier would pose. Experts fear that populations will be cut off from mating with other animals on the other side of the wall. This could lead to inbreeding and distorted genetics if animals on the same side of the wall begin to mate.
Moving forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline Construction
The Dakota Access Pipeline made headlines in 2016 over the controversy of violating Indigenous land rights. Critics argued that the pipeline endangered water supplies and sacred sites. Trump has essentially asked the Army Corps to rush their plans after Obama asked them to review their plan in December 2016.
Trump also encouraged TransCanada, a Canadian company that wants to carry oil from Alberta to the US, to resubmit its application to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The Obama administration rejected it, but Trump has pledged quick action on any new application. With Trump’s new department appointments, this freezes the governmental process of approving additional pipelines s after the ones mentioned previously. There are small wins for now.
Restrictions on the EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency staff has been instructed to freeze all its grants ― an extensive program that includes funding for research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring and education, among other things ― and told not to discuss this order with anyone outside the agency, according to a Hill source with knowledge of the situation.
An EPA staffer provided the information to the congressional office anonymously, fearing retaliation.“These grants help states pay to track air pollution, say, or restore watersheds, or support researchers studying various environmental problems,” Vox’s Brad Plumer explains.
The EPA wasn’t the only agency with imposed communication restrictions. The Department of Interior was not allowed to post on social media unless their posts were first approved by the White House. The USDA’s communication restriction was overturned after criticism from the science community.
Before Trump’s anti-EPA attorney, Scott Pruitt, is confirmed by the Senate as the new lead of the EPA, he has been slapped with lawsuits. He is being sued over failing to fulfill open records requests regarding his ties to the fossil fuel industry, which has provoked anxiety among conservationists and public health experts.
If this wasn’t enough, Congressional Republicans have been busy passing controversial environmental bills.
They’ve reversed an Obama-era rule to protect streams from the effects of coal mining; repealed regulation limiting methane emissions from oil and gas production; and undone a law that required fossil fuel companies from disclosing payments to foreign governments.