FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction

While the Trump administration swirls around in a vortex of Tweets, lies and Russiagate, one thing is for certain, while we are all distracted and perplexed by the daily mayhem, Trump and his fossil fuel buddies are getting away with environmental plunder.It’s not a surprise, really, given that Trump believes man-made climate change is a bunch of stale chow mein, as he notoriously tweeted:

Unfortunately, Trump has moved beyond his wacky conspiracy theory and sparked a full-on assault on the environmental laws, science and regulatory apparatus which act as our best hope to curb greenhouse gas emissions. In documents uncovered by the New York Times earlier this week, the paper revealed the Trump gang is going to announce a proposal that will make it far easier for oil and gas companies to release methane into the atmosphere. Trump’s gaseous rollback would allow these polluters to stop monitoring and fixing leakage that originates from their pipes.

Leaking methane is catastrophic, and by some estimates the gas accounts for one-third of all warming from greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, leaks account for approximately 32 percent of the industry’s total methane pollution. While methane doesn’t stick around as long as carbon dioxide, it has a much more immediate impact and is considered 84 times more potent than CO2 in the first twenty years after being released. Obama did not go nearly far enough in halting the fossil fuel polluters; nonetheless, Trump’s administration is dismantling every meager roadblock Obama’s EPA erected.

Trump’s latest move falls on the heels of a draft rule from earlier this year that would kill Obama’s methane waste rule, which mandated that oil and gas companies to capture any leaking methane from their operations, as well as update their existing equipment to minimize leaks. This past summer the EPA moved to weaken regulations on CO2 emissions from vehicle exhaust. And just last month Trump’s EPA moved to dismantle the Obama era regulations that caps CO2 emissions from coal-fired smokestacks, admitting the change would lead to at least 1,400 premature deaths per year.

It doesn’t stop there. In July, the Trump administration released a proposal that would remove key provisions from the Endangered Species Act, putting the survival of threatened and endangered species in further peril. To top it off, the brazen Bureau of Land Management is almost totally foregoing the public input stage that’s required before selling off our public lands to oil and gas development.

Along with gutting regulations, Trump is hellbent on exterminating the EPA as well. According to Columbia Law School’s Silencing Science Tracker, government scientists have been interfered with or censored by government agencies 116 times. Budgets have been slashed, staff has been cut and scientific research canceled. According to the tracker, only 20 of 83 federal science jobs have been filled under Trump.

On the campaign trail, Trump said he’d drain the swamp and shrink government spending, and when it comes to the EPA he’s kept his promise. A Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Washington Post shows Trump has downsized the EPA workforce by 1,200. Additionally, the Post reports that “260 scientists, 185 ‘environmental protection specialists’ and 106 engineers are gone.”

During the height of the EPA in the 1990s, over 18,000 people were employed by the agency, that number has now dropped to around 13,750. The fall of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and his scorched-earth oversight was certainly a feel-good moment, but the appointment of Andrew Wheeler leaves much to be desired.

Wheeler, a former energy lobbyist, worked hard to put the brakes on Obama’s EPA from enacting laws that would hold oil and gas companies accountable. He also served as the vice president of the obscure Washington Coal Club that consists of lawmakers, lobbyists and coal barons who share the same agenda of keeping the dirty fuel burning for decades to come. Wheeler also worked for Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, one of the most anti-environmental senators to ever hold office. Inhofe often refers to climate change as a hoax and infamously brought a snowball to the Senate floor to prove global warming was a con-job. Wheeler by every measure is as dangerous as Pruitt and will gleefully support Trump’s war on the environment.

Trump and his dismal EPA are ensuring that pesky government regulations don’t get in the way of fossil fuel profits any time soon. The impact of Trump’s disdain for science will certainly be felt, starting with the communities being clobbered by Hurricane Florence.

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail