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Trump Touts Deregulation in Earth Day Remarks
The first Earth Day helped create the system of regulations, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts, that the U.S. depends upon to protect its air, water and wildlife.
But President Donald Trump celebrated the 48th Earth Day by defending his administration's efforts to rollback regulations, arguing that the rollbacks are actually better for the environment.
"We know that it is impossible for humans to flourish without clean air, land, and water. We also know that a strong, market-driven economy is essential to protecting these resources," he said in a statement released Sunday.
"For this reason, my Administration is dedicated to removing unnecessary and harmful regulations that restrain economic growth and make it more difficult for local communities to prosper and to choose the best solutions for their environment," the statement further asserted.
The message tried to cast the administration's rollbacks as beneficial to the environment, because they would boost the economy and the economy would help the environment. However, the statement did not explain how or why a strong economy would protect the environment.
In fact, many critics have noted that the Trump administration's environmental policies favor industry at the expense of natural systems and public health.
A March study by the Environmental Integrity Project found that the EPA's decision to reverse the "once in always in" rule, which held that polluters once designated as "major" would always face stricter regulations, could allow just 12 major polluters in the Midwest to generate four times the amount of toxic air pollution.
Also in March, EPA head Scott Pruitt told employees to give him the final sign-off on whether development or industrial projects threatened wetlands, rivers and streams, a move that environmentalists said would allow Pruitt to bypass protections to benefit corporate interests.
A recent rule change proposed by the Department of Interior would also favor industry at the expense of threatened species by getting rid of the "blanket rule" that gives all species listed as threatened the same protections as endangered species.
Democrats used Earth Day to state their opposition to Trump's environmental agenda.
"The anti-climate agenda coming out of this admin is wrongheaded. The majority of Americans want to protect the environment and keep our air and water clean," Senator Kamala Harris tweeted, as The Washington Post reported.
Others singled out Pruitt in particular.
"The best way to celebrate #EarthDay: Call on Scott Pruitt to resign," Senator Chris Van Hollen tweeted, according to The Washington Post.
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Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.