Environmentalists have had concerns about Donald Trump since he won the election in November. As it turns out, they have good reason to worry.
Trump, who once claimed climate change was a hoax started by the Chinese, worried sustainability supporters enough during the campaign. He has done nothing to reduce those fears since becoming the president-elect.
His first move on the environment has been to nominate Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Putting a man in charge of the EPA who once sued it is not a course that will calm concerns.
Here is a look at Pruitt and other statements by Trump in the area of the environment.
Pruitt has been party to no less than eight lawsuits against the EPA. These primarily involve the oil and gas industry as well as coal-burning plants, according to an in-depth look at Pruitt’s career by the Tulsa World.
He also has been a critic of policy that goes too far in placing environmental regulations on businesses.
In this regard, he seems in lockstep with Trump himself. When nominating Pruitt, Trump issued a statement that said, in part, “For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn.”
He said Pruitt will better balance protecting the environment with the needs of the energy industry and job-creating businesses.
As with many issues involving Trump, most people have to look to his past statements as he has not put forth a clear policy or agenda.
They include some of the following.
The EPA. Trump told Fox News Sunday in October 2015 that what the EPA does “is disgraceful. Every week they come out with a new regulation.” He added, “We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy business.”
Asbestos. In “The Art of the Comeback” book, Trump wrote that asbestos is “100% safe once applied” and got a bad rap from miners who were digging asbestos for many years and developed health problems. He also said he believes that organized crime helped lead the campaign against asbestos, as he said he believes many crime-connected businesses made millions in the asbestos removal industry.
Paris Agreement. Trump said during the campaign that he would rip up the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Clean Power Plan. He also said during the campaign he opposes the plan, which would put more restrictions on plant emissions.
Coal. Trump has supported bolstering the coal industry.
What does all of this mean? Given the nature of campaigns and the many other statements that Trump made, it’s hard to tell which are ones he will follow up on and which he will not. Still, given his comments on the issues and his choice of EPA chief, those interested in environmental issues should continue to monitor his actions closely.