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THOMPSON: The damage Trump is doing while he tries to Make America Great Again

February 24, 2020 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Last week, Americans suffered yet another body blow in the Trump Administration’s bare knuckle fight that champions special interests over citizens. It’s easy to miss some of the damage Trump causes…I mean, it happens almost daily. His record clearly shows a strong predilection for the wealthy and corporations in his plan to Make America Great Again.

Every Trump move in the past three-and-a-half years - whether legislation or executive order - benefits wealthy Americans like him, and corporations, more than the typical citizen. In addition to carving bigger pieces of the pie for those already eating lots of pie, Trump has tried to repeal every rule and regulation that President Obama put in place…partly vengeful and partly to further feather the nests of special interest friends and himself.

Trump’s scandalous and corrupt behaviour and “deals” notwithstanding, some of his most harmful actions centre on the environment. He has targeted 95 rules and regulations that either repeal or weaken previous advances on climate change, chemical pollution, clean air, coal, oil drilling and protecting endangered species.

Trump’s latest move - last month - was to end protections for streams, wetlands and other bodies of water across America that hurts most Americans, but helps corporate farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers. Oh, and golf course builders and owners - like Trump’s company - benefit, too.

So, with his usual omission of self-interest, Trump rolled back Obama’s 2015 rules guaranteeing protections of the 1972 Clean Water Act to certain wetlands and streams that run intermittently or sometimes underground. Also, landowners no longer will need permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) to do things on their properties….even though those actions might well impact millions of Americans environmentally.

Let me be clear…as of today, thousands of landowners can with impunity do anything…including using and dumping pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers into thousands of waterways…many of which drain into larger waterways…like the Colorado River. Further, those landowners can…without providing proof of negative environmental impact…backfill wetlands to build golf courses, resorts and housing developments.

The E.P.A.’s Scientific Advisory Board, 41 scientists who evaluate the scientific integrity of environmental regulations, said the new Trump water rule turns a blind eye to science…“failing to acknowledge watershed systems.” They said “no scientific justification” exists to exclude certain bodies of water from protection.

Donald Trump is turning back the environmental clock 50 years. If you are wealthy…or have wealthy friends…who own land effected by the rollback in water rules…it saves you millions of dollars. Indeed, it opens the flood gates to now make millions…even billions of dollars.

President Donald Trump is corrupt…he cheats, he lies, he puts himself above everyone…and the law. Also, I know him to be one of the most vengeful people I’ve ever met. So, how could he pass on undermining Obama…and enriching himself and his friends?

The Attorneys General of several states whose people - decent Americans - could be harmed by these perverse new environmental rules will take the Trump Administration to court. That sounds good…right?
However,  I remind you that Trump has packed the courts with judges unfit to judge…and they owe him. That’s how Trump’s mind works. Trump owns the attorney general…and has virtually gutted the Justice Department.

I wonder every day whether all those Republicans…all those Americans…really thought seriously before they voted for a man whose only promise was to “shake things up.”  Well, Trumpians…you got your wish.

So, here is just a sampling of the rules and regulation changes that mean Americans breathe, drink and live at higher risk.

Oil and gas companies no longer have to report methane emissions, even on public lands.
Coal- and gas-fired power plants no longer have to meet federal standards on carbon emissions. California - or any other state - can no longer set more stringent emission standards for cars and light trucks.

Industrial polluters can now go back to the levels of toxic substances they released in air and water 20 years ago. Hydrofluorocarbons that science proved contribute to greenhouse gasses…well, they’re all legal again.

Worried about Methane emissions from existing landfills…don’t be…it’s all legal now. Trump revoked President Obama’s executive order that would have lowered the government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over ten years. There are now no water pollution regulations on fracking on Federal and Indian lands. It’s okay to oil drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

None of these or scores of other rollbacks upset Trump fans. So, Americans, think about how you enjoy those beautiful streams in the Smoky Mountains and the wonderful lakes in Idaho and the clean air in Colorado. They’re all in worse shape now than just four years ago…and they’re getting even worse.

Smart people should have figured out that environmental concerns would get worse when President Trump named the former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as the head of the E.P.A. You don’t expect foxes to be the best animal to watch over hen houses…do you?

One day, when Trump voters will look into their children’s and grandchildren’s eyes when they are asked, “Gee, what the hell were you thinking?”  My advice: Start practicing telling the truth…and looking sincere as you apologize to your heirs. Of course, maybe that just doesn’t matter to Trump supporters at all.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.


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