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Trump Touts Deregulation in Earth Day Remarks

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Trump Touts Deregulation in Earth Day Remarks
Donald Trump boards Air Force One while protecting himself from the rain on Feb. 27, 2018.

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.

Tellingly, Trump's Earth Day statement, like his 2017 remarks, did not mention climate change.

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.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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