Early Monday morning, the White House released a special message by the president, which focuses on a topic he rarely addresses head-on. Trump's 2019 Earth Day statement was lengthy, but made no mention of climate change whatsoever. Instead, the president took the occasion to point out the importance of a "strong market economy" as a crucial strategy to preserve natural resources.
Trump's Earth Day message highlights the apparent success of the Trump administration in being "effective stewards of our environment." It reads in part,
Earth Day is a celebration of the abundant beauty and life-sustaining bounty of our natural environment. On this day, we reaffirm our responsibility to protect God’s wondrous creation for future generations ... Environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand in hand. A strong market economy is essential to protecting our critical natural resources and fostering a legacy of conservation. My Administration is committed to being effective stewards of our environment while encouraging opportunities for American workers and their families.
Trump then goes on to argue that the United States is experiencing a high, of sorts, with its air and water purity. He said, "At the same time that our Nation is experiencing historic economic and job growth, our air and water quality ranks among the highest in the world."
This isn't the first time that Trump has made this claim about the air and water quality in America. And as PolitiFact notes, it's patently untrue. Per PolitiFact, the United States actually ranks 29th overall in water quality among all countries, and 88th on "exposure to particulate matter," which is one of the more comprehensive indicators of air quality.
In his Earth Day message, Trump then went on to note the ways in which his administration is increasing overall water quality across the nation. He said,
Under my Administration, we are improving the quality of life for communities across America by strengthening the security and reliability of our drinking water and accelerating spending on water infrastructure. Additionally, we have expanded support for conservation of land, water, and wildlife, and we are reforming land management policies to improve the health of our forests and other Federal lands.
It's unclear what policies he's referring to here. However, one thing is clear: the president made no mention of the crisis of climate change at any point in his Earth Day message. That's likely unsurprising for those who keep track of his speeches and general activity; Trump rarely mentions climate change. He didn't mention climate change in his 2019 State of the Union Address, either. In fact, the president only seems to address it when asked directly what his beliefs are regarding climate change in interviews.
To The Guardian on Monday, Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, said, "The fact that they’re not mentioning what many consider to be the gravest existential threat facing humanity is a good indication of the priorities of this administration."
Dessler continued, “The clear priority of the administration is extracting unsustainable short-term profits from the environment, which is in many cases the antithesis of environmental protection. This is not surprising."