My difficulties with Donald Trump and his administration go beyond issues of his dishonesty, divisive style and rampant misogyny which was on display again in connection with Brett Kavanaugh’s brutal confirmation to the Supreme Court.
On the one hand I am deeply concerned about Trump’s geo-political world view and discussed some of its key themes in a blog last week.
The other major concern has to do with this administration’s continuing attack on the natural environment and the elaborate system that is in place in the United States to protect it and also to ensure that U.S. citizens enjoy clean water and air.
Trump has of course announced that the United States will withdrawal from the Paris Climate accord unless the U.S. can get a “better deal”.
Fortunately, Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, was forced to resign due investigations about ethics violations. Unfortunately, the Agency is currently being run by Andrew Wheeler who, like Pruitt, is an expert on environmental legislation and is continuing Trump’s agenda of scaling back the agency’s rules and authority. You can read about Mr. Wheeler on the EPA’s website here or on Desmog, which has an environmentalist agenda, here.
Another example of the administration’s climate plan can be seen in the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh mentioned above. What has been lost in the confirmation process that played out over the last couple of weeks in the United States is the Judge’s philosophy regarding environmental protection and regulation. Although I am not a legal scholar, it seems that the Judge is in favor of rolling back the activities of government agencies such as the EPA, which he believes have gone beyond their original mandate from Congress. These ideas are explored in more depth in an article in the New York Times and a more in depth posting on the Supreme Court’s own web site.
What is in play in the United States is the legacy of the Obama Administration which systematically pushed the envelope on environmental legislation as a way to get around the Republican controlled congress. At the heart of their opposition is millions of dollars in campaign contributions and other forms of support from fossil fuel companies which are intent on maximizing share holder returns with no concern for the short term impacts on human health or the long term threat of climate change.
Surprisingly, it seems that the Canadian negotiators were able to ensure that the proposed replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, USMCA, still contains a Chapter on the environment with a number of positive points according the Canadian Government. The proposed treaty does not appear to make any explicit reference to climate change according to an analysis by the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
In his remarks to the General Assembly of the United Nations and subsequent 80 minute press conference, Donald Trump did not mention the natural environment and did not repeat his assertion that climate change was a a Chinese Hoax.
He did say that the United States would not allow itself to be controlled by any international bureaucracy and appears to be doing his best to take the world’s largest economy and second highest contributor to greenhouse gasses on the wrong path with regards to the natural environment as spelled out by National Geographic.
Trump’s environmental policy is another example of his administration’s abdication of American leadership on an issue which is clearly on of the most important facing the world.