The Trump administration notified Congress Thursday of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. Throughout his candidacy, Trump proclaimed he would "announce" plans to "totally renegotiate" NAFTA on "day one" of his presidency. Today is the 119th day of his presidency.
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, holds degrees in Economics and Finance from West Chester University in Pennsylvania and comes to the Sierra Club from the Rainforest Action Network.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive directive Tuesday to the Commonwealth's Department of Environmental Quality and the Air Pollution Control Board that will lead to a strong limit on carbon pollution from power plants through regional cooperation.
Senate Republicans rushed through a confirmation vote Thursday on President Donald Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Neil Gorsuch has been met with widespread criticism both across the country and from the Senate before, during and after his confirmation process.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to begin the process of repealing several Obama-era actions tackling the climate crisis and protecting clean air and water, including steps to begin the process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan, roll back Oil and Gas New Source Performance Standards, rescind National Environmental Policy Act guidance that directs agencies to account for the climate crisis and end efforts to reform the broken federal coal leasing program.
Late Thursday evening, news broke that TransCanada, the company behind the formerly rejected Keystone XL pipeline, will not be required to use U.S. steel to construct the dirty tar sands pipeline from Alberta, Canada through the U.S. to refineries in the Houston area. This is in spite of the repeated pledges by President Trump—including at Tuesday's speech before a joint session of Congress—that it will be built with "American steel."
Earlier this week, TransCanada delayed its $15 billion Investor State Dispute Settlement suit under NAFTA over President Barack Obama's rejection of the pipeline until March 27, the same day that the final permitting decision for Keystone XL is due. It has been speculated that the lawsuit was suspended rather that dropped to ensure that TransCanada was not required to use U.S. steel despite Trump's public statements that it would be.
President Trump has sought to portray himself as some sort of master negotiator, but he clearly needs to spend more time in an apprenticeship. Just days ago, Trump pledged before the country and Congress that the Keystone XL pipeline that he was forcing on this country would be made with American steel, but instead, he was outmaneuvered by a foreign company that wants to use imported steel.
The only winner of this "deal" is TransCanada, which is using a $15 billion threat under NAFTA's deeply flawed corporate tribunal system to outmaneuver Trump and push a dirty and dangerous pipeline across our country.
TransCanada's success over Trump is what happens when you have an administration stacked with fossil fuel billionaires and a trade deal that enables corporate polluters to push their agenda at will. Keystone XL is a disaster waiting to happen for our economy, our health and our climate, which is why it was rejected and must remain so.
His confirmation will be followed by a rally today at noon outside the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. The rally will demonstrate people's love of the outdoors and the fierce expectation that Sec. Zinke stand firm against those seeking to undermine the new Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
The majority of Americans want to see our public lands protected for future generations to enjoy, not sold off or plundered for the financial benefit of the few. Yet as a Congressman, Zinke repeatedly sold out to corporate polluters.
The Secretary of the Interior must stand behind our public lands and stand up for tribal sovereignty, not consider rolling back protections for places like Bears Ears National Monument. We will continue to push Secretary Zinke to defend our public lands. We will resist all efforts to dismantle, degrade, and dispose of our outdoor legacy, even as we fight to make these places more accessible and welcoming for everyone.
Today, President Donald Trump will scrap key aspects of former-President Obama's climate leadership, as he reportedly plans to sign Executive Orders to move the the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines forward.
TransCanada, the foreign company behind the Keystone XL project, will attempt to use eminent domain to sue American landowners and seize their private property in order to pipe this dirty fuel across the U.S. for export. After Obama rejected the pipeline in 2015, TransCanada sued the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for $15 billion. Despite his previous remarks concerning NAFTA, Trump did not address the company and its lawsuit before approving the project.
Following months of national opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Department of the Army ordered an environmental review of the project in December of 2016. The pipeline was originally proposed to cross the Missouri River just above Bismarck, North Dakota, but after complaints, it was rerouted to cross the river along sacred Tribal grounds, less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Trump had invested in Energy Transfer, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. His spokespeople have claimed that he has since divested, but no proof has been presented.
Donald Trump has been in office for four days and he's already proving to be the dangerous threat to our climate we feared he would be. But, these pipelines are far from being in the clear. The millions of Americans and hundreds of Tribes that stood up to block them in the first place will not be silenced and will continue fighting these dirty and dangerous projects.
Trump claims he's a good businessman, yet he's encouraging dirty, dangerous tar sands development when clean energy is growing faster, producing more jobs and has a real future. Trump claims he cares about the American people, but he's allowing oil companies to steal and threaten their land by constructing dirty and dangerous pipelines through it. Trump claims he wants to protect people's clean air and water, but he's permitting a tar sand superhighway that will endanger both and hasten the climate crisis.
The Keystone pipeline was rejected because it was not in the country's interest and the environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline was ordered because of the threats it poses to the Standing Rock Sioux. Nothing has changed. These pipelines were a bad idea then and they're a bad idea now.
Simply put, Donald Trump is who we thought he is: a person who will sell off Americans' property and Tribal rights, clean air and safe water to corporate polluters.
I'm not sure how many things you'd get Michael Bloomberg, Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney to agree on, but they did all say the same thing about Donald Trump: He's a con man. As the chaotic disaster of his presidency begins to play itself out on the national stage, though, we need to take that assessment a step further: Donald Trump is a master of deception and distraction, and our biggest mistake would be to underestimate him. He knows exactly what he's doing. He misdirects and misrepresents to compensate for his weakness as a leader.
Trump often distracts people by saying one thing while doing exactly the opposite. For example, he will praise President Obama and publically declare, as he did in Time magazine this week, that erasing his predecessor's legacy is the furthest thing from his mind. Meanwhile, he is making the farthest-right cabinet appointments in history, choosing men and women who will not only strive to erase President Obama's legacy, but do so with relish.
On no issue is this more obvious than climate change. When pressed on climate change during a meeting with the New York Times, Trump said he intended to keep "an open mind" on the Paris climate accord. Meanwhile, his daughter Ivanka supposedly let it be known that she wanted to make climate change her "signature issue." Might a Trump administration actually work with climate activists to find common ground? Who wouldn't want to believe that? And yet it all turned out to be misdirection.
One after another, every important climate position in Trump's cabinet has gotten an extreme anti-environmental, climate-denying nominee. It started with the most radical anti–climate-progress administrator imaginable for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a sworn enemy of the same agency he would run.
Then came Rex Tillerson as secretary of state—which would put an oil executive with no experience in international diplomacy and a king-sized conflict of interest in charge of our international climate policy.
Next, Trump picked former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who once pledged to eliminate the Department of Energy, to run that very department.
And finally, for the Interior Department, he selected Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, who during his short time in Congress has earned a 3 percent score from the League of Conservation voters.
This is a Koch brothers dream team: Not one of these men accepts the scientific consensus behind climate change. To a man, they are boosters of polluting fossil fuels.
And yet, in the real world, most Americans want their government to do something about climate change—not sabotage our progress. Even more Americans—majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, Trump voters and Clinton voters—want to see their government invest in renewables and a clean-energy economy. If Trump gets away with this clean sweep of dirty energy champions, Americans will end up with exactly the opposite of what we really want and desperately need.
You can argue about whether such tactics served Trump well in his long and checkered business career, but for a U.S. president this kind of behavior is a political time bomb. As Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Every piece of data shows that Trump is the least popular U.S. president to enter office in recent history. Despite the unprecedented intervention of a foreign government in the election, he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots. Treating the American public like suckers while ignoring their real needs and wishes (and hoping they won't notice) is a loser's strategy. It's habitual deception masking a desperate, thin-skinned insecurity. And sooner or later, it will fail spectacularly.
In the meantime, though, a lot of damage can be done. That's why we must see past the distractions of tweets and soundbites and shine a fierce light on the reality of what Trump and his corporate cronies want to do to our government. Nominating someone like a Rex Tillerson to the highest position in the cabinet is a brazen overreach that must be stopped. Putting the EPA and the Department of Energy in the hands of men who want to destroy those institutions is outrageous.
Don't be fooled. We can stop this from happening. If everyone who believes it's important to protect our climate and environment speaks up, Trump will be forced to back down. Start now by telling your senators to oppose the Tillerson and Pruitt nominations, and stay tuned for more actions and ways to get involved.