Trump declares war on 'unthinkable' Green New Deal in speech touting environmental record: 'I will not stand for it'

'The spectacle of the president straining to document a positive environmental record should be seen for what it is — utter fantasy' a critic says of the president's environmental record

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 08 July 2019 17:01
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Trump declares war on 'unthinkable' Green New Deal: 'I will not stand for it'

Donald Trump has declared war on the Green New Deal in a speech touting his administration's work on the environment, which has included a rollback of environmental protections and regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses that cause climate change.

"I will not stand for it," Mr Trump said during his speech in the White House's East Room, where he touted his administration's work to expand US natural gas production, to clean up ocean debris, and to rollback greenhouse gas regulations put forward by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Mr Trump said the deal, which was introduced earlier by congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would "kill millions of jobs" and cost $100 trillion dollars — a figure that has been called into question, and appears to have come from a group funded by conservative groups with undisclosed donors.

The Green New Deal is a rough outline of goals set forward that its supporters say would radically remake the US energy economy, create green energy jobs, and help prop up poor and minority communities disproportionately impacted by dirty energy production.

"It’ll kill millions of jobs, it’ll crush the dreams of the poorest Americans and disproportionately harm minority communities," Mr Trump said.

::Read more: Here's the Trump administration's environmental record over the past two years::

In a preview of Mr Trump's speech, senior administration officials said that the goal of the speech would be for the president to claim global leadership on environmental issues, including fighting pollution while at the same time keeping America's energy portfolio viable through the continued extraction of fossil fuels. Officials also said that key air pollutants have dropped 70 per cent since the 1970s, including "under Trump's watch".

The EPA itself says that there have been major air quality improvements in the past decades as a result of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, including in the past couple of years. But, EPA data also shows some increases during Mr Trump's presidency as well of emissions of soot and smoke from coal and oil combustion.

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The idea that Mr Trump — who has rejected mainstream climate science during his political career — has led on issues related to environment, however, has been scoffed at by environmentalists.

Ken Cook, the president of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement before the president's speech that he expected Mr Trump's comments to be full of mis-truths, and that the Trump administration has been "hostile" to environmental concerns.

"I don't envy the fact checkers covering President Trump's speech," Mr Cook said. "The spectacle of the president straining to document a positive environmental record should be seen for what it is — utter fantasy. There has never been a president who has actively pursued an agenda so hostile to the environment and public health at the behest of polluters than Mr Trump."

Mr Trump's administration has undertaken a massive dismantling of environmental regulations over the past two years, with roughly 83 rollbacks for regulations touching on oil and gas issues, animal issues, and clean air or water issues.

In addition, the president has installed former lobbyists for oil and gas interests at the top levels of his government, including the current EPA chief, Andrew Wheeler, and the current secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt.

Many of the regulatory efforts have targeted Obama-era climate change rules, which would have reduced greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. In place of the Clean Power Plan — one of Mr Obama's best known environmental rules — the Trump administration has imposed new regulations, but they are expected to still result in more deaths from environmental concerns than if the Clean Power Plan was left in place.

On the international front, Mr Obama has also begun the process of removing the US from the Paris Climate Accord. Doing so could make the US as the only country on earth that is not party to the deal. Mr Trump said on Monday that the accord was a bad deal.

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