Trump's long-term plan to destroy Obama's green legacy

(The Independent, 15 Sep 2019) The White House is not only overturning as many environmental protections as it can - it also wants to significantly change the legal landscape to make it harder to reinstate them. Lily Puckett reports.

In the first hour of Donald Trump’s presidency, the newly appointed administration wiped Barack Obama’s administration’s climate and energy pages from the White House website, replacing them with the America First Energy Plan, which mostly focused on “clean coal”.

A few weeks later, the EPA’s website was stripped of any mention of climate change at all. Activists across the country panicked, but as the Trump administration began its hectic reign, their outcry was largely ignored in the wake of other devastations. Now, two and a half years into president Trump’s first term, they may feel their fears have been justified: Mr Trump has rolled back or attempted to roll back 85 environmental regulations, effectively dismantling the strides made by the Obama administration.

The changes were expected even before the website warning - Mr Trump has long disputed the existence of climate change, on one occasion suggesting it was a Chinese hoax. But the former real estate man also vowed during his candidacy to run the United States as he would a business. And that promise he’s kept. Openly disdainful of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr Trump has seen business opportunities in every part of the country, from air to endangered species to national parks.

This week, the mark was America's water. On Thursday, the Trump administration rolled back the 2015 Water of the United States (WOTUS) regulation, which enhanced protections by defining what bodies of water belong to, and are thus under care of, the US.

Claiming that Obama-era rule costs "hundred of thousands of jobs" without any evidence to suggest it had, the administration has replaced the protection with a regulation that allows them to decide which waters deserve federal protection. Almost immediately after EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the rule, the director of federal water policy at the Natural Resources Defence Council vowed to fight it in court.

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The Independent, 15 Sep 2019: Trump's long-term plan to destroy Obama's green legacy