Apparently, not much.
As we get further and further into the drama of a Trump presidency there seems to be something new for people to be outraged at. Most of it, perhaps rightfully so. The GOP Tax Cuts, the FCC vote on Net Neutrality, and not renewing the funding of the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) have all divided Democrats, Republicans, and the American people. From what I’ve seen and read, it all looks like its benefitting US senators and congressman as well as big corporations instead of the American people.
But back to things more sustainability-related. There has been a lot going on in America on that front that hasn’t been all over leading media outlets and it’s difficult to know where to start.
Earlier this month, Trump ordered Ryan Zinke, the US Interior Secretary, to reduce the size of a number of National Monuments in Utah. The two largest, the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument have been massively reduced from 1.3 million acres to 201,000 and 1.9 million acres to just over 1 million acres respectively. The Grand Staircase-Escalante has also been separated into three new National Monuments.
The National Monuments here had been declared under the Antiquities Act during the Clinton administration (Grand Staircase-Escalante) and the Obama administration (Bears Ears). The Antiquities Act is designed to create National Monuments from federal land in order to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features. Basically, creating areas that are protected from being built upon.
Whilst this move by Trump doesn’t necessarily mean that the land will be degraded to coal mines, oil fields, or any other industry, his desire to send the USA back decades in terms of energy generation would make a move like that unsurprising. Adding to that, the falling price of renewable energy and the large number of jobs that are being created in the renewable energy sector really doesn’t make this a good business move for a man who is, apparently, a very good businessman…
On to Scott Pruitt. The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency who doesn’t think that the environment should be protected. Still can’t work that one out…
A number of reports have surfaced recently regarding Pruitt’s hiring of Definers Public Affairs, a company that specialises in opposition research. The opposition in this case is anyone working for the EPA who disagrees with Pruitt’s agenda. Around 40 Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed since Trump became President to force EPA workers to reveal private emails that may have been critical of Pruitt. For a political party who continually argue that free speech is being attacked, they do enjoy persecuting those who speak out against them.
Finally, there have been a number of reports this week on Trump’s banning of a number of words from CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) reports. Words including ‘vulnerable’, ‘entitlement’, ‘diversity’, ‘transgender’, and ‘foetus’ have all reportedly been banned from use in the upcoming budget reports. Why? I don’t really know. Maybe Trump just has trouble spelling them.
For me, the banning of ‘science-based’ and ‘evidence-based’ from the same reports is worse. Surely a government branch like the CDC should be basing a lot of their decisions on what is scientifically proven and what there is evidence of? It’s increasingly difficult to work out the reasoning behind moves like this, but that could be said for a lot of what has happened during Trump’s presidency.
Personally, I’m not sure Trump has heard of the word sustainability. Whilst there has been economic success during his presidency (with some help from Obama), there is almost no consideration for anything that would lead to environmental or social sustainability. The desire to push fossil fuels and the breaking up of National Monuments is sending the US back to a time where the majority of man was ignorant to the environmental impact we have on this Planet. Whatever Trump’s motives behind many of his actions, they certainly aren’t making America great.