With the 2020 US presidential election rapidly approaching this November, environmental activists in the US and abroad are concerned about what another four years of a Trump presidency would mean for the global environment.
During President Obama’s eight years in office, he had a strong stance on protecting the environment. This included everything from investing in renewable energy sources to placing bans on microbeads. By doing so, the quality of the US environment was the best it had been in decades, with citizens seeing cleaner waterways and a decrease in national pollution. However, with the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and his highly pro-economic, growth-at-all-costs approach, many of the steps taken forward started being erased. Trump has made it very clear he prioritises US jobs and economic growth, no matter what the cost to the environment.
In his four years in office, Trump has withdrawn the US from the Paris Agreement, in which 195 nations are a part of to ensure a strong global response to climate change, as the only major economy and carbon emitter to have done so. According to the Trump White House, “President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses and taxpayers by the US pledges under the agreement.” There are obvious concerns that while the rest of the world moves to ensure the well being of the environment, the US will not be contributing its fair share.
The withdrawal from the Paris agreement is one of the largest environmental decisions Trump has made, but it neither ends or starts there. With Trump rolling back regulations on clean air, water, and endangered species laws, many are concerned about what the next four years of a Trump presidency would do to overall climate change as well as the natural environment in the US. Back in the 1970s, the environmental movement forced politicians to take action. With their help, laws protecting the air and water, and restrictions on dumping in waterways, lakes and rivers came into place, ensuring the health and well-being of Americans.
The biggest concern that people have is President Trump’s suggested dismantling of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA is a 50-year-old law that serves as the cornerstone of environmental policy and the Environmental Protection Agency in the US. According to Politico, Trump “announced the federal government would narrow its interpretation of the law, a move he said would help businesses avoid government red tape”. While this change in interpretation would decrease the impact on businesses and the number of hoops they would have to jump through, the question remains: is it worth degrading the environment for the sake of the economy?