In the past four years, Trump has shredded environmental protections for American lands, animals and people
by Alvin Chang, Emily Holden, Oliver Milman and Noa Yachot
“I want crystal clean water and air.”
That’s what Donald Trump said in the first chaotic presidential debate with Joe Biden. But there is scant evidence of that desire in the actions of his administration, which has spent nearly four years systematically dismantling core environmental protections, some of which stretch back decades.
Experts agree that the climate crisis’s most destructive manifestations, on display in a particularly difficult year for the US, barely scratch the surface of the catastrophes to come. Yet the president appears unmoved by the enormous wildfires, devastating hurricanes, widespread water problems and persistent air pollution that disproportionately blights black and Latino communities. His administration has scrapped climate regulations, rolled back clean water rules and loosened pollution standards. Protections for public land and threatened species have been shrunk while new oil pipelines and coal mining have been encouraged.
The legacy of these changes will stretch well beyond Trump’s presidency. Here is a list of some of the key rollbacks of the Trump era.
This list was adapted from the Harvard Law School’s Regulatory Rollback Tracker.
1. Made it easier to lease public land for oil and gas drilling.
2. Enabled the expansion of offshore drilling.
3. Proposed making 85% of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska available for oil and gas drilling.
4. Amended rule that reduced toxic air pollutants from petroleum refineries.
5. Rejected the science calling for tougher air pollution rules
The Trump administration rejected government scientists’ recommendations to strengthen air pollution standards for soot, or PM2.5.
PM2.5 are tiny particles, mainly from fossil fuel combustion in cars and power plants, that are linked to increased hospitalizations, emergency department visits and deaths.