President Donald Trump seems to think that if he says something, that makes it true. Either that, or he thinks voters are really gullible.
Those are the only explanations that make sense of his speech Monday touting his administration as a champion of the environment when, in reality, it’s the opposite.
Trump has worked to reverse gains the Obama administration made in protecting the air and water. He has ignored science. He has appointed former energy industry lobbyists to key environmental jobs. He’s rolled back important regulations. He has slammed the brakes on progress that was being made to move the nation away from dependence on coal-burning power plants.
He pulled the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement even though this country should, as a global power and a major producer of greenhouse gases, be a leader in fighting climate change.
In Monday’s big environmental speech, Trump didn’t even mention climate change. How can he claim that his administration is working “harder than many previous administrations, maybe almost all of them,” to protect the environment while ignoring that the month that just ended was the hottest on record in the United States and in Europe? How is it helping the environment to ignore the rising sea levels, flooding and extreme weather caused by warming?
Instead of taking a leading role toward a better future, this president has been trying his best to drag the country backward. Claiming he’s protecting jobs and the economy, he’s trying to prolong our dependence on dwindling supplies of the fossil fuels that pollute our air and water. Yet Trump had the nerve to brag that his administration has made it a top priority to make sure the U.S. has the cleanest air and water “on the planet.”
In a speech filled with distortions, he took credit for progress in air quality that has been made under previous administrations through regulations he has criticized and worked to reverse.
He bragged that the U.S. is ranked No. 1 in the world for access to clean drinking water. Nine other countries share that ranking, but he ignored that, just as he ignored the fact that people in many rural and poor areas of this country don’t have clean water.
Of course, he also omitted the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to roll back Clean Water Act protections on many of the wetlands and streams that are essential for filtering water and controlling floods.
Trump’s right when he says the environment and the economy are intertwined, but he’s got the relationship wrong. He thinks that protecting industries such as coal will keep the economy strong, and that then we can take “practical” steps to help the environment. But much of the environmental damage that is happening while we drag our heels on making cleaner energy sources affordable will be irreversible. In the long run, that will hurt the economy more.
Trump also claimed that the Democrats’ Green New Deal would disproportionately harm minorities and the poor, when it’s well documented that those are the people who suffer most from environmental problems.
So, what’s going on? Most likely, the polls are showing that while Trump’s base doesn’t care about his dismal environmental record, many swing voters are appalled. So Trump gave a speech saying that he’s doing great things to protect the environment, hoping he can fool those voters.
But saying it doesn’t make it so.