The Environmental Impacts of Trump's Rulings
January 31, 2017
The Center for Biological Diversity & Emma Foehringer Merchant / Grist & Brian Palmer / EcoWatch
Donald Trump's desire to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, would perpetuate human suffering, harm border communities and halt the cross-border movement of jaguars, ocelots, wolves and other wildlife. The wall would be particularly harmful to highly endangered jaguars. Trump has vowed to solve problems we don't have. His America First Energy Plan would "decrease our dependence of foreign oil" by killing US jobs in clean alternative energy and subsidizing costly. dirty, old-fashioned fossil fuels.
Trump’s Wall 'Would End
Any Chance of Recovery for Endangered Jaguars'
The Center for Biological Diversity
(January 27, 2017) -- President Trump announced Thursday that his administration will pursue a wall along the US-Mexico border, a project that would perpetuate human suffering, harm border communities and halt the cross-border movement of jaguars, ocelots, wolves and other wildlife.
Among animals, the wall would be particularly harmful to highly endangered jaguars. Two jaguars have been photographed north of the border in recent years, but the US population will never reestablish if migration from the small population in northern Mexico is blocked.
"Donald Trump continues to cling to his paranoid fantasy of walling off the US-Mexico border, regardless of the harm it would do to border communities and wildlife," said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity.
"We already know that walls don't stop people from crossing the border, but Trump's plan would end any chance of recovery for endangered jaguars, ocelots and wolves in the border region."
Billions of dollars have already been spent to construct and maintain hundreds of miles of existing border wall with little to no environmental oversight, resulting in major problems with erosion and flooding in border communities and the blockage of normal wildlife movement across the border.
Yet Border Patrol and Homeland Security officials have repeatedly testified that the border wall is nothing more than a "speed bump" that does not stop people from crossing, and just this week an outgoing Homeland Security official called Trump's push for a wall "preposterous" and "an incredible waste of taxpayer money."
"Like many of Trump's ideas, this one has nothing to do with reality," Suckling said. "By any measure the US-Mexico border is more secure now than it's ever been. There is no reason to sacrifice the health of border communities and wildlife for such political grandstanding."
Migration corridors are crucial for the recovery and survival of wildlife along the border, especially those with small populations, including wolves, ocelots and jaguars.
"The border region is home to a rich diversity of living beings," Suckling said. "It's a place where north and south meet and overlap -- the only place in the world where jaguars and black bears live side by side. It's this diversity that makes us strong, not some wasteful, immoral wall."
The wall is widely opposed, especially among communities in the Southwest.
"We will not stand by while Trump creates a Berlin Wall on America's border," Suckling said. "We'll fight this Stone Age proposal in every way we can -- and if necessary put our bodies in front of the bulldozers."
"I Would Build a Great Wall"
Emma Foehringer Merchant / Grist
(January 27, 2017) -- There's an environmental argument against Trump's border wall, too. After President Trump signed an executive order to advance plans for a wall along the border with Mexico, architects, conservationists, and environmental activists protested that it would do little to stop migrants from crossing the border but would create lasting problems for animals and the land. And don't forget the people.
A nearly 60-foot high concrete wall would make traveling to eat, drink, and mate more difficult for black bears, ocelots, and other species that live along the border, according to scientists and wildlife advocates.
The energy-intensive process of producing cement to hold the concrete together adds to the environmental damage. Globally, the cement industry accounts for 5 percent of CO2 emissions.
Green groups also argue that tackling climate change would be a better way to curb the flow of refugees around the world. "If President Trump was as concerned about our nation's true national security issues, he would be tackling climate change head-on while safeguarding refugees and immigrants from the worst impacts of a warming planet," said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski in a statement.
It could be tough for environmentalists to block the wall in the courts. An act passed in 2005 made it easier for the federal government to bypass local environmental laws in the name of national security.
7 Ways Trump’s First Week
In the White House Was a Complete Disaster
Brian Palmer / EcoWatch
1. A Mission Long Since Accomplished
One of Donald Trump's first acts as president will be to solve problems we don't have. His America First Energy Plan promises to free us from "burdensome regulations" and end our "dependence on foreign oil."
Dependence on foreign energy was a legitimate concern in the 1970s, a decade when oil imports increased fivefold. This is not an issue anymore. During the Obama administration, oil imports dropped 25 percent. Bemoaning our dependence on imported oil in 2016 is to pretend the past eight years never happened. Take a look.
Trump taking credit for American energy independence is the equivalent of storming into the middle of a touchdown celebration, ripping the ball out of the scorer's hands and spiking it.
2. Which America?
When President Trump promises to put "America First," he means the part of America that voted for him. (Not to belabor the point, but that's substantially less than half the US voting population.) The other America, it seems, can take a hike.
For instance, Trump's America First Energy Plan contains no mention of renewable energy. Solar ("very, very expensive," claims Trump, wrongly) now employs more Americans than oil, gas, or coal.
Wind (a "very, very poor form of energy," in Trump's estimation) now generates more than 20 percent of the electricity in three states. Nearly two million Americans work full- or part-time jobs in energy efficiency, an industry that Trump undermined on his first day in office.
Of course, those jobs are in states with foreign-sounding names like "California" and "Hawaii." Mr. President, are these places not the America you were talking about?
3. Welcome to America, Censorship!
Speaking of real things that Trump doesn't believe in, the White House website now has virtually zero mentions of climate change. According to reports, the Trump administration has ordered the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a similar information purge.
Trump has also banned press releases and social media posts at most agencies with any relationship to science -- the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, etc. Shut up, science!
Fortunately, universities around the world have been toiling to preserve existing US government data by copying it onto websites beyond Trump's reach. Meanwhile, someone has set up an uncensored alternative Twitter account for the National Park Service and the EPA (among others), and media outlets are offering how-to pages for aspiring government whistleblowers and document leakers.
Enraged scientists are considering a march on Washington (working title: "the Nerd Pride Parade"). There are more than six million scientists in the United States. If just 10 percent of them attend the march, they will outdraw the Trump inauguration. Do it, nerds!
The whole incident is a classic example of censorship backfire. Trump's attempt to stop people from talking about climate change has only multiplied the chatter. Experts refer to this as "the Streisand Effect."
4. The Trump-ian Inquisition
To further its war on scientific integrity, the Trump administration has ordered the EPA to submit all studies and data to political review before public release.
Extremism has a certain internal logic that you have to respect. Myron Ebell, the professional climate change denier who's leading the EPA transition, believes that "science is having a corrupting influence on politics." That idea is obviously backward. It's the scientists who identify facts and the politicians who take those facts and do unspeakable things to them.
However, in the context of Ebell's bizarre worldview, subjecting scientific studies to political review makes perfect sense. Ebell is the sort of man who looks at the Galileo affair and thinks, "Life at the center of the universe was so much better. They were too easy on him."
5. Participation Trophies?
Moving from censorship to outright lies, a major newspaper finally fact-checked Donald Trump's repeated boast that he has "received many, many environmental awards."
The results are in. I hope you're sitting down for this -- there is no evidence that Trump has ever won an award for environmental stewardship. The Washington Post gave him four Pinocchios for the whopper.
"I've actually been called an environmentalist, if you can believe that," Trump once said.
I can believe that, because the person doing the calling was Trump himself, and the audience laughed so hard when he said it that the hearing room had to be called back to order.
6. Pipelines: They're Baaack
President Trump signed an order on Tuesday expediting the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was under environmental review by the Army Corps of Engineers.
He also formally requested that TransCanada reapply to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, an abrupt about-face from the Obama administration's KXL position, which could be summarized in two letters.
Trump, being Trump, had to toss out a falsehood while signing the order, muttering "lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs" in a supervillain voice that almost made it sound like he intended to keep all the jobs for himself. In fact, the KXL project would create a maximum of 4,650 jobs for only two years. Over the long-term, the pipeline would create just a few dozen permanent jobs.
7. It's Getting Chilly
In one of his first acts, President Trump froze all regulations made under the Obama administration that have not yet been finalized. Caught up in the freeze were 30 EPA rules, including the Renewable Fuel Standard and a formaldehyde-emission limit for wood products.
Imagine the damage to US businesses if the EPA had been allowed to limit the amount of formaldehyde -- a skin irritant and known carcinogen -- in the wooden floorboards our babies crawl on. Oh, the humanity. Trump also ordered a hiring and contracts freeze at the EPA, lest the agency try to save us from other dangers.
Reposted from the EcoWatch media associate, onEarth.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.