How Has Trump Dismantled Obama’s Environmental Legacy?

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While the Obama administration spent eight years creating and passing environmental regulation after regulation, the Trump administration has spent its first eight months rolling back as many of those regulations and energy efficiency programs as it can.

While the goal of those rollbacks is to reinstate coal as a thriving industry in the United States, much of the country seems to feel that it isn’t worth the environmental impact.  In March 2017, a Gallup poll showed that 45 percent of Americans were extremely worried about global warming and climate change, an all-time record breaking number. There has been national attention around Donald Trump exiting the Paris Agreement, but that’s not the only environment policy he’s looking to reverse.

Here’s a look at some of the ways that President Trump’s administration has undone what the Obama administration worked so hard on, and how it affects the environment:

Clean Power Plan

The Clean Power Plan is Obama’s signature climate measure and the administration’s pride and joy, and it aims to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. President Trump is in the process of initiating a rollback, which will eliminate tax incentives for utility companies to cut emissions.

Rolling back the Clean Power Plan means it will become more expensive for fuel, oil and gas companies to cut emissions. As a result, emissions are likely to rise, contributing to climate change in the process.

As of October 2017, the rollback is still under review.

Keystone XL Pipeline

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Slated to cost over $3 billion and counting, the Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed 1,179-foot pipeline that will connect Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, in order to transport over 830,000 barrels of oil daily. The proposed pipeline is expected to support and increase oil production and trade between the United States and Canada significantly.

The consequences could be significant: relying too heavily on oil as a nonrenewable energy source could contribute to a future economical crash. Oil production harms and kills animals and marine life when inevitable oil spills and slicks occur, destroying entire populations and ecosystems daily.

Carbon Emissions Regulations

In February 2017, Trump signed an order commanding the Environmental Protection Agency to review the Obama administration’s regulations that limit carbon emissions from power plants, in an effort to have these regulations removed entirely.

Removing these regulations will lead to increased carbon emissions and greenhouse gases in the environment as power plants no longer have an incentive to minimize them. Some greenhouse gases last in the environment for thousands of years, so the impact is irreversible in the near future.

There’s a current climate agreement in place with France that requires the United States continues to limit carbon emissions. If this effort goes through, removing the regulations will cause the United States to break the Obama-era agreement and withdraw from it. This could have an effect on international relationships as well as the obvious environmental impact.

Stream Protection Rule

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The Obama administration blocked coal-mining operations from dumping waste into waterways in response to concerns about water pollution of lakes, rivers, and streams. In February 2017, President Trump reversed that rule, allowing coal waste to find its way into water sources all over the country.

Just a few months later, in June, 63 percent of Americans polled by Gallup were “worried a great deal” about polluted drinking water.  As it is, 25 percent of Americans drink water that violates safety standards, according to New York Times; and most contamination in tap water isn’t detected or reported so the figure could be even higher.

These are just a handful of the ways that the Trump administration has dismantled the EPA’s authority and the Obama administration’s environmental legacy. Other proposed environmental threats include a blow to hurricane relief and continuing climate change denial, and more rollbacks are likely to come as the administration continues its quest to rejuvenate the coal industry and other non-renewable energy sources.

The world is at stake: the time to act is now. Call your senators and tell them that you disapprove of the administration’s actions against the EPA.