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Trump Adds 'Tasteless Insult to Injury' by Pushing Fossil Fuel Deregulation After Fatal Chemical Fire

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A chemical plant fire at 16503 Ramsey Road in Crosby, Texas on Tuesday, April 2. Harris County Fire Marshal's Office

By Jake Johnson

Just a week after a chemical plant explosion killed one worker and spewed thousands of pounds of dangerous pollutants into the air in Crosby, Texas, President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to visit that city Wednesday to sign executive orders to speed up approval of pipelines and other fossil fuel projects.


In coming to the location of a deadly fossil fuel-related explosion to sign an order that would gut states' power to protect residents from the hazards of oil and gas pipelines, Trump is adding tasteless insult to the injury he is inflicting on our planet," Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement.

"Trump's support for the fossil fuel industry reflects a real disdain for public safety and a livable climate for generations to come," Hauter continued. "Expediting pipelines means more petrochemical buildout in places like Appalachia, and more disasters waiting in the wings — not to mention climate catastrophe."

According to the Houston Chronicle, Trump will appear at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center in Crosby, where he will deliver a speech about "how he plans to aid the United States' booming domestic oil and gas production."

While the full details of Trump's forthcoming executive orders have not yet been made public, a White House official told the Chronicle they will be geared toward helping oil and gas companies avoid "red tape."

"With oil industry cronies and swamp monsters filling the ranks of his administration, it's no surprise that Trump is once again taking an action championed by climate deniers and fossil fuel companies," Rachel Rye Butler, climate campaigner with Greenpeace USA, said in a statement. "This executive order is nothing but an attempt to trample people's rights to protect their air, water, and climate from polluting oil and gas pipelines."

"This is particularly appalling given that many parts of the country are reeling from climate disasters—like the historic flooding in the Midwest that has much of the Keystone XL pipeline route underwater," Butler added. "Instead of creating jobs in the rapidly growing green energy economy, Trump is putting fossil fuels on life support at the expense of our climate and communities."

The president's move to expand fossil fuel production in Texas and across the nation — including TransCanada's Keystone pipeline — comes as the international scientific community warns carbon emissions must be slashed drastically and quickly to avert planet-wide climate catastrophe.

Oil Change International (OCI) estimated in a report published earlier this year that Trump's Big Oil-friendly agenda has put the U.S. on track to account for 60 percent of global growth in fossil fuel production between 2019 and 2030.

"If not curtailed, U.S. oil and gas expansion will impede the rest of the world's ability to manage a climate-safe, equitable decline of oil and gas production," OCI's report warned.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.


Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.

AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."


The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.

"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.

As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."

"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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