Dirty, Hot, Deadly: The Real Trump Scandal is What He’s done to the Environment

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

I don’t think Trump creates Twitter scandals to deflect attention from his real scandals. I think his mind just works in an odd way.

But the fact is that concentrating too much on the sound and fury issuing from Mar-a-Lago is counter-productive. Trump actually is changing the United States in a major way, with a massive assault on the environment.

1. Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency is already gutting the agency, and has withdrawn the request the EPA had made of oil and gas firms that they report on methane emissions. Fracking in particular may produce a great deal of methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and less often measured at drill sites.

2. The administration is planning to cut funds for Great Lakes clean-up by 97%, which would be devastating. The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s fresh water and millions depend on them for drinking water. They have been heavily polluted, including by the oil and gas companies, and need to be nursed back to health. Instead, they’ll likely be further polluted under Pruitt, who never met an environmental regulation he liked. Algae blooms from run-off of agricultural fertilizer have struck drinking water in places like Toledo, and need to be combated.

3. Trump has already undone a regulation enacted in December that prevents corporations from dumping waste from fossil fuel plants into streams and rivers. There have been crises in recent years, such as Duke Energy’s coal ash spill in North Carolina.

4. Trump plans to get rid of automobile greenhouse gas emissions standards.

5. All this is not to mention Trump’s plan to cut the funding of the Environmental Protection Agency by 25% and lay off 3,000 workers!

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21 Responses

  1. At the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, the Cuyahoga River had long been a pollution problem. Cleveland had been a major industrial city since the 1880s, and the mayor then called the river “an open sewer through the center of the city.”

    But when the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland in 1969, many believe it became the symbol of out-of-control pollution that was needed to get the Clean Water Act passed.

    I don’t remember who said “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” but it seems especially appropriate during this, shall we say, unique period in American history.

  2. We need to consult with the best available climatologists to get a firm estimate of when Mar a Lago is going under water, then set up a count down clock and start to publicize the hell out of it.

  3. I guess it will be up to the States to fight all this for the next 4 years. And, that would mean about 20 states, because the rest are run by Republicans and, thus, totally on-board with corruption.

    What is the current status on DAPL? Last I heard, it was in the courts and the judge, irresponsibly, OK’ed continued construction while the case was in review.

    • I suspect the law suits from California will be fast, furious and numerous.

      I am old enough to remember the many law suits that used to be in the courts where states and cities downstream of polluters sued constantly. Back then the polluters realized that the thousands of law suits were going to bankrupt them so they welcomed the EPA regulation to stabilize the situation.

      I suspect that current polluter managers have no knowledge of the mess from those days and how many companies were endangered. I KNOW that the bots that trade stocks these days have no knowledge of the danger the companies will face in just a few years from law suits that will drain profits.

      Then again the current managers of the polluters plan on making their personal wealth as quickly as possible and be long gone from the companies before the brown stuff hits the fan. This is why most of CEO pay should be deferred for ten years so that if the CEO makes a decision that negatively effects the company they will never get their deferred pay – It will change the mind set of CEOs.

  4. Gord Coulson

    Not just #Trump, but the entire @GOP will trade a good life on earth for their own grandchildren for short term energy profits.

  5. EmmaG ?

    Agree. I think many are deeply concerned about these issues & other things Trump is doing. Hence, his low job approval among Dems.

  6. Worth keeping in mind a point that Ryan Lizza made a couple of months ago: a very large portion of Trump’s policy is what any standard-issue modern R would be doing in his place, with complete control of government. Trump brings virulence, nihilism, incompetence, and a court of comic-book level thinkers to the WH — but the institutional Rs are solidly behind all the internal policies (is that the right word?) that you cite.

    For anyone whose pessimism is wavering, a glance at the line of presidential succession is like peering into Miltonic depths: Pence>Ryan>Hatch>Tillerson>Mnuchin>Mattis. Like some 3rd world country, we have to get all the way to the General to get even a glimmer of rationality.

    • Excellent points, hquain. It isn’t only Trump but the other authoritarians and authoritarian followers associated with the Republican party that are major parts of this and many other problems. Not that the Judas-Democrats will come to our rescue.

  7. But the fact is that concentrating too much on the sound and fury issuing from Mar-a-Lago is counter-productive.

    “Global Warming’s Threat to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
    March 5, 2017

    Exclusive: President Trump’s war on President Obama’s regulations may kill off rules to reduce leaks of the global-warming gas methane, a partisan scheme with grave consequences for Mar-a-Lago and the world”, writes Jonathan Marshall. – link to consortiumnews.com

  8. Trump is erasing years of research, hard work, and the strides made by environmentalists, and supporters, during the past decades. Science has been ridiculed and intellectuals ignored, because it suits this administration to make nice with those who put their anti environmental businesses first, take over, and destroy the environment. Trump is taking the US backwards, and will never recover, while the rest of the world, even China, is trying to make this top priority for the world. This is a health issue, and has serious consequences, which Trump is too ignorant to realize.

    • Sure, but America has been a free rider on global interdependence for years. Nothing changes until the free rider is slapped with severe economic (because they care about nothing else) consequences.

      Boycott, divest, sanction.

  9. I find it “interesting ” that while China has learned the reasons why EPA type control is necessary and is rapidly putting many EPA type regulations in place (albeit with death penalties) , the USA is killing many EPA type regulations.

    If both counties continue on their current paths, living in China could end up being much, much nicer than living in the USA (unless you are a Chinese polluter, then life could be very short).

    China’s problem s were caused by basic greed combined with no regulation, which they are changing for the common good. Now the USA is going to let basic unregulated greed determine everything.

    I am sure that will work out really great.

    • I would argue that the Beijing regime made a deliberate strategic decision to amplify its frantic growth rate during the Bush era. Because if they had done any research on Cheney and his circle at all, they would have realized that China qualified as a threat to American dominance that the PNAC required to be defeated. 9/11 instead distracted Cheney and China exploited America’s need for loans and cheap goods, emerging as an indispensable power. What the leaders probably didn’t expect was the sheer size and speed of the environmental damage this would require.

      However, China is again facing an Administration that considers it a special threat. The question is, if they’ve been chastened by environmental blowback, does that mean the leaders take a completely different approach this time, or do they try to create a Green Bubble using mandates to force-feed solar panels to the world instead of cheap steel and tablets? Which gets to the global question of judging the damage from green growth versus no growth.

      • China has an energy problem due to massive sociological and technological changes over the last 50 years.

        Although most Americans do not know it, China has been a major power center for most of the last 5000 years. Basically China only lost power between the mid 1700s and the mid 1900s due to the European empires having more military power. Since the death of Mao, China has made 300 years of progress in less than 50 years. Now China is back to being a major power center and there is NOTHING the USA can do about it. The Chinese leadership is not afraid of trumpette and his band of idiots.

        The Chinese middle class has returned, is growing and is now larger than the USA population.

        Because of the growing middle class and the transition from agrarian to a brains based economy, China needs LOTS of cheap energy while improving the quality of life for the citizens. As a result, China will flood the world with cheap solar panels and power walls because the USA and the rest of the world are now just “extra markets” after internal needs are met. Combining the internal market with the “extra markets” gives enormous manufacturing scale.

        China will indeed be a major player in the green change because it benefits them a lot. They will also apply Sun Tzu’s ideas and embarrass trumpette every chance they get just to keep him on the edge of insanity which will make China a very attractive partner for most of the world.

        Basically, just as USA companies, in search of more profit, handed China most of their IP for free during the last 50 years, the USA will now drive most of the world to politically partner with China because it is the adult on the earth.

        I learned long ago to never underestimate China. The world has changed dramatically since the mythical 1950s and trump is only going to accelerate the decline of the American empire (which is a poor extension of the UK, French and Spanish empires).

        I think China will do just fine and totally frustrate the Americans that want to cling to the last rags of the USA empire.

  10. As some readers have pointed out: Although Trump is a demented fool, his policies towards the environment are standard issue Republican.
    We are about to see a Republican feeding frenzy on mother earth. These greedy little swine are going to do all the horrid thing they have been promising their 1% masters they would do if they ever got the power again.

    This is the time to form a new Political Party. The Democratic Party is still controlled by the Clinton Gang and it’s addiction to money, so it’s been neutered. The Clintons are like herpes: They may go hide for awhile, but they’ll be back.

    • The comment was good and accurate until the third paragraph. Isn’t the But-but-but Clinton meme so over-stated as to be satirical? Very mediocre. Y’all better git, Rush gonna be on soon. And for those herpes, there are prescriptions.

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