Trump Targets Environment in Final Days

We’ve come to expect the worst from the dirtiest president in history, and he rarely disappoints. As his final days in office count down, the Trump Administration is working overtime to slash and burn every environmental protection in reach.

The outgoing president had already spent much of his four years in an all-out assault on clean air and water and natural resource conservation, with a special focus on undercutting renewable energy and climate action while promoting the increased use of fossil fuels. The new assault since Election Day seeks not only to finalize as many of those changes as possible, but to add additional damages.

Here are some of the pro-pollution messes that the Trump Administration is working to create during its last two months: 

  • Auction off drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • Change national banking regulations to make it harder for the public to stop lending institutions from financing polluting projects (like Arctic refuge drilling)
  • Open up other national forest and wilderness areas in multiple states for mining, roadbuilding, and other development projects
  • Narrow the definition of protected habitat for endangered species, and reinterpret protections for migratory birds so that “incidental” killings (e.g., birds landing in open poisoned waste ponds on industrial sites) cannot be penalized
  • Exempt appliances from energy efficiency requirements intended to reduce waste and air pollution
  • Weaken controls on ozone and fine particulates air pollution
  • Change drinking water lead testing in ways that could make it harder to prevent lead poisoning and force cleanups.

These are changes on top of the previously known high-profile attacks on the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Rule, Clean Water Rule, Clean Car Standards, and climate action initiatives. In these and other actions, Trump is seeking to make it as hard as possible for the incoming Biden Administration to undo the damage.

Of course, all of these damaging changes are being fought by adversely impacted communities and environmental advocates.

It’s hard to be certain which ones will be completed in ways that will stand up to legal challenge. From an environmental standpoint, however, one conclusion is absolutely undisputed: January 20, 2021, should get here ASAP.

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