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Trump Is Desperately Trying To Greenwash His Record Ahead Of The Election


Throughout a Could 2018 roundtable with greater than two dozen outside sporting and conservation organizations, after greater than a 12 months of main the Trump administration’s fossil fuel-centric “power dominance” push, then-Inside Secretary Ryan Zinke promised to make a “grand pivot” away from power improvement and towards conservation. 

Zinke’s decree was an admission that the company had fallen quick on its stewardship mandate, and an acknowledgment that Individuals wished higher safety of public lands and waters.

And but, Zinke’s grand pivot by no means got here. As a substitute, the administration plowed forward with its unprecedented assault on environmental protections ― not less than 100 regulatory rollbacks, in keeping with a New York Instances tracker ― and handled the federal property as little greater than a spot for {industry} allies to extract sources.

The Trump administration has labored to weaken safeguards for some 35 million acres of public land — almost 1,000 occasions greater than it has protected — and has stacked environmental companies with former {industry} lobbyists and legal professionals, many with histories of contempt for the very companies they now lead. And it has continued to cheer on the fossil gasoline {industry} amid a quickly worsening local weather disaster.

However within the final 12 months, President Donald Trump’s marketing campaign appears to have realized that this might price him a second time period. And as a substitute of adjusting course, the president has undertaken a noticeable greenwashing marketing campaign. 

“We’re doing a really robust job, and never all people is aware of it,” Trump mentioned in a July 2019 setting speech on the White Home, a 45-minute occasion filled with the lies and spin which have outlined the present presidency. “We’ve got solely America. We’ve got just one planet … That’s why, each day of my presidency, we are going to battle for a cleaner setting and a greater high quality of life for each certainly one of our nice residents.” 

The following month, after skipping a Group of Seven summit assembly on local weather and biodiversity, Trump boasted, “I’m an environmentalist” and “I feel I do know extra concerning the setting than most individuals.”

That effort to rebrand Trump as a champion on setting and conservation has solely ramped up because the 2020 election attracts nearer. However Trump’s report is evident. Very similar to Zinke’s roundtable feedback, the administration’s last-ditch effort to enhance the president’s picture signifies it’s properly conscious his legacy just isn’t certainly one of stewardship.

“It’s like he drowned somebody, placed on a whistle and known as himself a lifeguard,” mentioned Kate Kelly, public lands director on the Middle for American Progress and a former Inside Division official in the course of the Obama administration. “It’s too late. It’s too late for Trump to be something apart from essentially the most anti-conservation president in historical past.”

The White Home didn’t reply to numerous HuffPost’s particular questions. In an e-mail assertion, spokesperson Judd Deere argued that the Paris local weather accord, which Trump final November started the method of pulling the U.S. out of, “shackles economies and has performed nothing to scale back greenhouse gasoline emissions.” 

Judd additionally claimed ― falsely ― that the Inexperienced New Deal, a progressive set of guiding ideas to rein in greenhouse gasoline emissions and construct climate-resilient infrastructure, “would outlaw cows, automobiles and planes.”

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in a tree-planting ceremony in recognition of Earth Day and A

President Donald Trump and first woman Melania Trump take part in a tree-planting ceremony in recognition of Earth Day and Arbor Day on the South Garden of the White Home on April 22.

A Uncommon Win With Greens

As 2020 ramped up, the administration badly wanted a conservation win, one thing to level to within the run-up to the election. So in March, Trump did an about-face on the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal conservation program established in 1964 that Trump tried for years to intestine funding for. 

“I’m calling on Congress to ship me a Invoice that absolutely and completely funds the LWCF and restores our Nationwide Parks,” Trump tweeted that month. “After I signal it into legislation, it is going to be HISTORIC for our stunning public lands.”

The president’s newfound assist for LWCF, which makes use of offshore oil and gasoline revenues to determine and defend parks, wildlife refuges, forests and wildlife habitat, got here shortly after he sat down on the White Home with Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), two loyal Trump allies going through robust roads to reelection.

In the course of the assembly, in keeping with The New York Instances, Gardner informed Trump that passing a public lands invoice can be the most important conservation victory since President Theodore Roosevelt established America’s system of nationwide parks, refuges and forests within the early 1900s.

Trump holds up a walking stick given to him by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) after he signed the Great American Outdoors on

Trump holds up a strolling stick given to him by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) after he signed the Nice American Outdoor on Aug. 4. “There hasn’t been something like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I believe,” Trump mentioned on the time.

Congress went on to move the Nice American Outdoor Act, which absolutely funded the LWCF and allotted $9.5 billion to deal with the mounting upkeep backlog at America’s nationwide parks. Ultimately month’s signing ceremony, Trump repeatedly in contrast himself to Roosevelt (who protected over 230 million acres of federal land), praised Daines and Gardner, and characterised the legislation’s passage as a Republican victory. 

Sooner or later folks “should begin excited about the Republican Social gathering and all of the unimaginable issues we’ve performed on conservation,” he mentioned. 

Trump earned uncommon factors with inexperienced teams for signing the invoice into legislation, successfully hijacking a yearslong battle to safe everlasting LWCF funding by senators like Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). He made no point out of the truth that all however three of the 132 votes towards the general public lands bundle within the Senate and Home have been forged by Republicans.

It’s like he drowned somebody, placed on a whistle and known as himself a lifeguard. … It’s too late. It’s too late for Trump to be something apart from essentially the most anti-conservation president in historical past.
Kate Kelly, former Inside Division official

The greenwashing occasion additionally featured some astonishing, if not downright comical, self-deception. In hopes of rewriting historical past, Trump has apparently satisfied himself that gutting two protected nationwide monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, was good for his conservation legacy. 

“If you add all of this to what we did in Utah, for those who do not forget that … We did Bears Ears,” he mentioned, proudly referring to slicing the monument boundary by 85% and opening the door for power and mineral improvement. “The form of issues we’ve performed are actually record-setting.”

It was certainly record-setting: the biggest rollback of federal land protections in U.S. historical past. 

Trump added to his report of dismantling monuments this summer time when he opened Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine Nationwide Monument, an almost 5,000-square mile sanctuary off the East Coast, to business fishing. In the meantime, William Perry Pendley, a conservative lawyer with excessive anti-environmental views and a historical past of advocating for promoting off federal lands, continues to guide the federal Bureau of Land Administration. 

Punking Or Pulling The Plug On Pebble Mine?

In one other latest about-face, the Trump administration delayed a key allow for Alaska’s Pebble Mine ― a controversial mission that the Obama administration blocked and that Trump revived early in his time period.

In a letter to the Canadian firm behind the mission, the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers mentioned the proposed open-pit copper and gold mine in southwest Alaska would trigger “unavoidable adversarial impacts” to the world’s aquatic sources, and gave the corporate 90 days to provide you with a plan to mitigate the environmental injury. It’s a hurdle that some say may kill the mission.

Notably, the shock choice got here a month after the Military Corps concluded the mission on the headwaters of Bristol Bay, the most efficient sockeye salmon fishery on the planet, would don’t have any “measurable” impact on salmon shares or the watershed. 

So what modified? A number of conservative sportsmen, together with Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Vice President Mike Pence’s former chief of employees Nick Ayers, instantly spoke out towards the mine improvement.  

“The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the encircling fishery are too distinctive and fragile to take any possibilities with,” Trump Jr. wrote in an Aug. Four tweet. 

Sockeye salmon are tethered to the shore along the fast-moving current of the rapids on the Newhalen River near Iliamna in Al

Sockeye salmon are tethered to the shore alongside the fast-moving present of the rapids on the Newhalen River close to Iliamna in Alaska. The website of the proposed Pebble Mine is lower than 20 miles away, and plenty of residents worry it may irreparably hurt the native ecosystem.

The delay and 90-day deadline got here 71 days earlier than the election, doubtless pushing a last choice till after Nov. 3. 

Requested about Pebble Mine throughout a latest interview with The Every day Caller, Trump Jr. mentioned he’s “as pro-business because it comes” however that some locations are “simply sacred.” He dismissed the concept Republicans are environmental foes and that his father is governing based mostly on the place his son likes to chase salmon.

“Donald Trump won’t ever get credit score for a number of the environmental issues he’s performed,” his son mentioned, noting amongst different issues that his father supported elevated funding for restoring the Florida Everglades. “You are able to do good issues for the setting with out destroying the center class.” 

Cementing An Anti-Environmental Legacy

As HuffPost beforehand reported, public lands are getting huge play within the 2020 elections within the West, a lot as they did in the course of the 2018 midterms. And there are many indicators that the Trump administration is frightened about how its industry-first agenda has landed with Western voters who worth federal lands and environmental safety. 

This week, the EPA introduced the creation of a brand new Workplace of Mountains, Deserts and Plains, positioned in Colorado, that may deal with cleansing up legacy mine air pollution. “The West is a particular place, with particular environmental challenges deserving of its personal workplace inside EPA,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler mentioned in an announcement.

Throughout a speech Thursday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the company, Wheeler claimed that beneath Trump, the EPA has performed “properly if not higher than [under] any latest administration” at upholding its mission of defending human well being and the setting ― an assertion that drew speedy hearth from environmental advocates. 

In the meantime, the regular drumbeat of anti-environmental guidelines and rollbacks continues because the administration works to cement adjustments forward of November. This week, the EPA weakened an Obama-era rule that sought to restrict poisonous wastewater launched from coal-fired energy crops. The U.S. Forest Service unveiled a proposal to expedite oil drilling on nationwide forests and grasslands. And the Inside Division is dashing to open Alaska’s fragile Arctic Nationwide Wildlife Refuge to grease drilling, with a lease sale attainable by the tip of the 12 months. 

Requested throughout an interview final month on “Fox & Pals” about his effort to inexperienced mild refuge drilling, Trump provided this: “I hate to say it. In concept, I ought to go down as an ideal environmental president.”

Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), a former environmental legal professional and member of the Home Pure Sources Committee, informed HuffPost that Trump and his workforce can try to rewrite their report all they need, however it speaks for itself. 

“There’s so many dangerous selections ― anti-environment, anti-science selections ― that so overwhelms any evaluation of Trump’s insurance policies with regard to power and setting that it’s actually not even an in depth name,” he mentioned. “It’s a direct reflection of what occurs whenever you actually enable fossil gasoline lobbyists to run the companies which are supposed to manage the fossil gasoline {industry}.” 

“We’ve by no means seen, from a Democratic or Republican administration, this wanton disregard for the bedrock basis of environmental legislation,” he added.

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