Trump’s Environmental Destruction Agency Is Diligently at Work

Climate_change1

(The source for this post is this May 6, 2020, NY Times article: The Trump Administration Is Reversing Nearly 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the link to the full story.)

Petulance and Pandering as Government Policy

Faithful to his campaign promises President Donald J. Trump’s team of trolls at the Environmental Protection Agency has made significant advances in their mission of  dismounting, diluting and destroying previous administrations’ measures for preserving the environment. The NY Times article makes this evident in a clearly-presented barrage of data their team of investigative reporters collected from the Harvard and Columbia law schools and other sources.

A summary reading of the 4,000-word article indicates that the driving criteria behind Trump’s monumental environmental wrecking job respond to two factors:

  1. A childish revenge motive to dismount and discredit programs initiated during the Barak Obama presidency.
    President Trump cowers under a dark cloud of his own suspicion that President Obama is the better man. So Trump’s response is to bury the Obama legacy at any cost. And the cost, in terms of the degradation of the American environment and the lives of the American people, is dear.
  2. A determination to benefit big business interests regardless of the price to the interests of American citizens.
    The obvious big winners here are the fossile fuels companies, ironically at a time when the price of a barrel of oil is below zero–they have to pay to stockpile it–and renewable energies are looking like increasingly viable alternatives to coal and oil. One wonders what possible justification there can be for this expensive insistence on fattening a moribund horse.

Who is writing the script for this grotesque clown show, anyway? It’s certainly not President Trump. He has proven to us that he is incapable of reading a script, let alone writing one. And this is not just any old script. It forms part of the master plan to alter the DNA of the erstwhile “greatest country in the world.” Who’s calling the shots? We don’t know, and we won’t know until it’s too late. The best we can do now is to make our best educated guesses and get to work on a provisional opposition strategy. The NY Times, taking advantage of research done by the law schools of Harvard and Columbia  and others, has just advanced a significant first step. They have itemized, quantified and analyzed the measures the Trump administration has taken to dismount and destroy key US government environmental rules.

They are doing this to the detriment of American taxpayers, citizens of other countries around the world and the planet, itself. They’re murdering mother nature: her bees, birds, big cats, elephants, rhinos, orangutans, amphibians, lynx, hawks and eagles, dolphins and whales, coral, the Amazon, Alaska… Soon everything will be extinct–including humankind–except the rats and scorpions. They’re survivors, more adaptable, intelligent and opportunistic than a hedge fund manager, though he has also been able to survive in the sewers of Wall Street.

Iberian lynx kittens
Lynx kittens. The Iberian lynx is the most endangered big cat species in the world.

The Times Article Breaks the Trump Environmental Wrecking Plan Down into Seven Categories

All of them reflect grave danger and the Trumpian know-nothing determination to make matters worse on all fronts. The Trumpeteers’  actions respond more to an affirmation of arbitrary authority than to environmental issues. The message is that they’re doing it because they can and in order to create incremental precedents for ever-more-egregious future abuses. This is just one face of a monster designed to convert the United States into the definitive dystopia for everyone except the rich, Washington’s very own Godzilla.

Here They Are, by the Numbers

1/ Air Pollution and Emissions

According to the Times reporters it’s the Environmental Protection Agency which has spearheaded the repeal of Obama-era emissions rules for power plants and vehicles; weakened protections for the nation’s wetlands; and withdrawn rules for restricting mercury emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, the Interior Department has opened up more land for oil and gas leasing by cutting back protected areas and limiting wildlife protections.

Then the spokesclown for the E.P.A permits herself the luxury of declaring:

“Over the past three years, we have fulfilled President Trump’s promises to provide certainty for states, tribes, and local governments,” adding that the agency was “delivering on President Trump’s commitment to return the agency to its core mission: providing cleaner air, water and land to the American people.”

The NY Times concludes their section on Air Pollution and Emissions:

“All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality each year, according to energy and legal analysts.”

2/ Drilling and extraction

The tenor of Trumpish initiatives to permit mining companies to bespoil more and bigger swaths of land runs to shrinking the land around national monuments, lifting the ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, rescinding water pollution regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands, approving construction of the Dakota Access pipeline less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, and a lot of other similarly outlandish environmental abuses in benefit of miners and drillers.

3/ Infrastructure and planning

The Trumpeteers have revoked Obama-era flood standards for federal infrastructure projects, along with all other environmental protections dubbed “Obama era,” as well as loosing rejuvenated oil and gas monsters across the country, along with eight more similar cases.

4/ Animals

Trump’s environmental team has watered down the Endangered Species Act, restored the right to use lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands, overturned a ban on the hunting of predators in Alaskan wildlife refuges, proposed revising limits on the number of endangered marine mammals that can be unintentionally killed or injured with sword-fishing nets on the West Coast. Debilitated rules have de-protected everything from tuna fish and sea turtles to migratory birds and grizzley bears.

5/ Toxic substances and safety

Virtually all “Obama-era” rules regarding toxic substances have gone out the window, leaving citizens at the mercy of toxic chemicals in everything from pesticides and cosmetics to dry-cleaning solvents. Safety rules for the use of hazardous chemicals in workplaces have been relaxed, including a program to reduce risks of workers developing the lung disease silicosis.

6/ Water pollution

The Trump environmental team’s efforts to better manage America’s water resources for big business include the usual nullifying of Obama-era initiatives such as pollution protections for tributaries and wetlands, revoking a rule that prevented coal companies from dumping mining debris into local streams, and withdrawing a proposed rule requiring groundwater protections for uranium mines, as well as proposing the opening of 1,500 acres outside the Grand Canyon to nuclear production. Not carried out yet but next on the agenda are a series of measures to facilitate more dumping of waste from power plants into rivers and streams.

7/ Other

Out the Obama-era window go measures to increase the number of energy-efficient light bulbs; to prohibit the use of sand from protected ecosystems for coastal replenishment projects; and to reverse restrictions on the sale of plastic water bottles in national parks, a measure desgined to cut down on litter. And there’s a lot more to come.

Who Wins, Who Pays?

Who is responsible for deciding which environmental protection measures should be thrown out? Industry advisors, perhaps? Who suffers the consequences and pays the bills? The usual suspects.

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President Trump May Go Down in History as the Savior of America–2/2

The Lowest Low Point

1. Implementing child separation — and lying about it

From April to June 2018, the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy at the southern border that deliberately separated children and babies — some as young as 4 months old — from their parents. In the span of six weeks, 1,995 kids were torn away from their parents. Some will likely never be reunited. On June 16, 2018, Trump lied about the policy, saying it was “forced” by Democrats. Once his lie was exposed, on Oct. 13, 2018, Trump explicitly advocated his barbaric policy as a deterrent. Those low points sparked international outrage.

These incidents enumerated by Klaas include exclusively those that occurred during the Trump presidency, not the run-up. So they omit such egregious cases as the Colin Kaeperninck disrespect-for-the-flag tweet,  the “Access Hollywood” tape, mocking a disabled reporter, attacking a Gold Star family, calling to ban all Muslims from entering the country or labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists.

How to Scuttle the Ship of State

In order for President Trump to sink the United States government–and the country–irretrievably he only has to continue along his same path. As we have seen in his daily tweets and even mainstream news coverage, he’s done an admirable job of sabotaging the government during his fist term in office, from defunding and dismantling vital agencies to deregulating business and finance, but he still has a way to go. A Democratic-Party-controlled House of Representatives is a hurdle he would have to surmount but there’s a possiblity he could turn the House around in the upcoming elections.  He has won against the odds before–producing apoplexia in the Democratic machine–and the American electorate has been known to deliver other remarkable surprises.

The Immediate Result of a Possible Trump Defeat

But what if he were to lose? How would President Trump’s partisans take the loss? Would they just step aside for the new President elect? Can anyone really foresee President Trump leaving office without kicking and screaming? What is more likely is some sort of coordinated civil unrest, the maximum expression of which is civil war. Is that eventuality being prepared in the White House basement as we speak? Should it come to armed civil disobedience, which side would the nation’s police and armed forces come down on? Is anybody thinking about that? Or are they all just betting the farm on that comforting old saw: “It can’t happen here”

Suppose it were to happen, along with all the other horrific contingencies that President Trump’s administration has made possible. A full-blown American Civil War II would be a giant step towards ground zero.  And we haven’t even considered the role of the Chinese and the Russians. Would they stand idly by? Or would they consider picking up a bargain out of the wreckage? Isn’t the Chinese’s own pictograph for “crisis” composed of two characters, one meaning “danger,” and the other “opportunity.”

Back to the Premise

How could a person like Donald J. Trump become the savior of the United States? It’s time to look at the historical precedents in other countries. In our time, since World War II, there have been two nations that have risen from the ignominy of defeat and total destruction, humiliation and starvation poverty, and worldwide condemnation. And they have achieved it in less than three generations. They have both rebuilt their countries and their economies, but more importantly they have recuperated their moral decency. Both have recognized, abandoned, repented, and apologized repeatedly for their agressive acts of warfare and crimes against humanity, their racism and historic rapaciousness. And their populations have assimilated a whole new set of humanitarian values based on democratic principles, respect and decency at home and abroad,

Those two countries are Germany and Japan. Located on opposite sides of the globe and with widely disparate cultural and social traditions, what did they have in common that permitted them to renew themselves in every conceivable respect? Their cities were systematically razed, their ideologies discredited. Their allies evaporated, along with their credit internationally. The only resources they could count on were humility, intelligence and determination. Granted, the $15 billion Marshall Plan was an important factor in European recovery but it wasn’t enacted until 1948. The first three years of Germany’s lone battle back from the gates of hell started from zero. Today Germany and Japan are two of the most advanced–and more importantly–most civilized countries in the world.

The Road to Rock Bottom

Is it possible that these are the very conditions that the United States requires in order to become great again? Could the current COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump’s characteristically inept handling of it be the detonator? From “We’ve got it under control…” to 55,000 deaths and counting is a long stretch, Mr. President. Will the coronavirus do for the Americans what the Second World War did for the Germans and the Japanese. Will it take them to rock bottom? If so, would the American public be able to muster the intelligence and determination–and most difficult of all–the humility to rebuild their entire world from zero?

It’s important to keep in mind, I think, that it couldn’t be achieved with traditional American values. No amount of self-reliance, dog-eat-dog competition and quick-buck capitalism would get the job done. It would require tremendous levels of selfless collaboration on the part of its citizens, something unknown in today’s highly-polarized United States. It’s not a given that Americans are capable of such a sea change in their hearts and minds. If they were, they might bring it off, just as the Germans and the Japanese did. That would make President Donald J. Trump, the principal agent for taking his country to rock bottom, in effect the savior of America, albeit by an ironically indirect route. If it should turn out that the Americans are not capable of working together intensely and disinterestedly, there are other nations with high levels of preparation waiting in the wings.

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