On Saturday, as thousands of protesters for the March for Science lined the streets in cities across the country to speak out against the Trump administration's environmental cutbacks, the President took to Twitter to defend his record, stating that he is "committed" to protecting the environment. But Trump recognized Earth Day in a way that contradicts some of the policies that his administration has endorsed — and that's problematic.
Trump made a statement attempting to honor Earth Day, despite the fact that his Environmental Protection Agency head denies the scientifically agreed upon fact that climate change is a man-made occurrence.
Rigorous science is critical to my administration's efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection. My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks. As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.
While it is customary for the sitting President to release a statement on Earth Day, Trump's specific word choice could be seen as a direct response to the March for Science, which aimed to "defend science and scientific integrity," according to its website. While Trump's words may challenge the narrative that his administration is at odds with scientific research, his actions speak much louder. I mean, this is an administration that literally removed the word "science" from the EPA's online mission statement when Trump took office in January.
But what is even more troubling are the actions that the Trump administration has taken to deregulate industries that contribute carbon emissions and defund agencies that seek to protect the environment from them. For example, Trump has signed executive orders to continue construction on two controversial pipelines that could have adverse affects on the environment, and his budget proposal recommends cutting the EPA budget by 30 percent. He has also vowed to remove the United States from international treaties that limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump's defense for these actions is that they are necessary in order for his administration to put American workers first. He argues that unnecessary regulations can potentially harm American industries and cause Americans to lose their jobs, especially those in the coal mining and factory industries. In fact, Trump actually mentions this in his Earth Day statement.
Trump stated that "economic growth enhances environmental protection," but doesn't elaborate on how his policies could create jobs while preserving the environment. In fact, the intersection of job growth and environmental regulation is something that Trump has spoken very little about. His rhetoric to this point has seemed to see the two as mutually exclusive, which makes Trump's statement even more bizarre.
Trump's Earth Day statement makes it clear that he is attempting to set the record straight about his administration's views on science and the environment. But instead of touting his commitment to preserving the "abundant natural resources and awe-inspiring beauty" of the country, he should back up his words with specific policy initiatives that would actually do so.