Since assuming office, President Trump’s presidency proved to be as colorful as his personality. The policies he has signed regarding the repeal of the current health care law and economic policies involving free trade and international relations are just as controversial as his immigration reforms and the much talked about travel ban. Then just recently, Homeland Security issued an electronics ban on certain U.S.-bound flights originating from specific Middle East countries.
It seems as if the President is just warming up and we can expect more from him in the coming days. He just threatened to go after some Congressmen who weren’t particularly helpful in the Obamacare repeal, how classy of him.
Two more positions in the Trump cabinet have recently been filled and like nearly every Trump cabinet pick, these appointments are not without controversy — particularly from those in the environmental community.
Former Montana congressman Ryan Zinke is now secretary of the interior and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt now heads the Environmental Protection Agency.
As secretary of the interior, Zinke is charged with both the management and conservation of federal lands and natural resources. He oversees large government entities including the Bureau of Land Management, the Geological Survey and the National Parks Service.
On Zinke’s first day as secretary he signed Secretarial Order 3346, overturning the ban on using lead ammunition and tackle on federal lands (including national parks and wildlife refuges). Claiming that lead ammunition is more inexpensive than lead-free alternatives, Zinke says this order will “expand access for outdoor enthusiasts.”
And concerned citizens will not just sit down and wait for things to unfold when major environmental threats from global warming and climate change are just around the corner.
As the representatives of the National League of Cities (NLC) prepared to meet in Washington for their annual Congressional City Conference, NLC President Matt Zone, a city council member from Cleveland, Ohio, sent a letter to President Donald Trump affirming the group’s dedication to environmental goals that protect their communities.
The letter comes in the wake of actions taken by the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations and statements made by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who was a guest on CNBC’s program “Squawk Box.” During the interview, Pruitt said, “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so, no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”
Pruitt’s comments reflect a change from the Obama administration’s attitude about impact of human activity on climate change, the cause of greenhouse gases and the necessity of certain environmental regulations. Two regulations from 2015 – one that limits greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities and one, called the Waters of the United States rule, that gives the federal government authority over wetlands, rivers and streams that feed into major bodies of water – are the first to be targeted by the administration.
Environmental issues affect the world at large and not just the United States. The new president should not think that everything revolves around him because the environment is a bigger issue than he thinks it is. Conflict is everywhere. Countries are ravaged by war. And geopolitics is doing the environment more harm than good.
Much of the world seems to be on edge. The West’s relationship with Russia, the future of Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the Syrian civil war and refugees, rising right-wing populism, the impact of automation, and the UK’s impending departure from the European Union: All these topics—and more—have roiled public debate worldwide. But one issue—one might say the most significant of them all—is being ignored or pushed aside: the environment.
That was the case at this year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. Beyond a mention of the Paris climate agreement by Chinese President Xi Jinping, topics like climate change and sustainable development didn’t even make it to the main stage. Instead, they were relegated to side meetings that rarely seemed to intersect with current political and economic events.
Allowing environmental issues to fall by the wayside at this time of geopolitical and social instability is a mistake, and not just because this happens to be a critical moment in the fight to manage climate change. Environmental degradation and natural-resource insecurity are undermining our ability to tackle some of the biggest global issues we face.
Given the current state of things, it appears that President Trump got his priorities all wrong. He issues budget cuts on important sectors like education, health care, the arts and the environment and puts more emphasis on issues pertaining to immigration and the country’s defense, which is not at all wrong actually, just misaligned resources.
He should seek the counsel of wise cabinet members to help him create realistic and relevant policies that the Americans will thank him for. Or else, he may fall short of his promise of making America great again.