Trump admin has declared war on the environment

The deeply forested landscape in Humboldt County, where environmental protection is a critical issue. (Photo: Ethan Daniels)

The resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was met with a collective sigh of relief across the nation. Pruitt, one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal foot soldiers in the Trump Administration’s ongoing war on environmental quality, environmental justice, and environmental health, had overseen some of the most egregious rollbacks of environmental protections in history during his brief and troubled tenure in office.

But anyone who thinks that Pruitt’s departure is the end of the fight – or even just a momentary pause in hostilities – hasn’t been paying close enough attention.

President Trump and his administration remain a clear and present danger to our environment, to public lands, and to all who believe that health equity, public lands and monuments, biodiversity, clean air and water, and climate justice should take precedence over corporate profits.

Opposition is even higher among California voters of color: 84 percent said they are opposed to Trump’s actions.

Just scratching the surface, the Trump administration has torpedoed efforts to address climate change, weakened migratory bird and wildlife protections, rolled back vehicle emissions standards and other measures to reduce air pollution and protect human health, rolled back monuments, and stocked his administration with industry lobbyists and anti-science ideologues.

Trump has also effectively declared war on our nation’s public lands, waters, and monuments, opening up sensitive off-shore and on-shore areas to oil and gas drilling, scrapping efforts to balance energy development with conservation, and illegally reducing the size of national monuments celebrating the diversity of the nation.

Here in California, Trump’s administration has bent over backward to grease the skids for Cadiz, Inc.’s damaging groundwater mining project in the Mojave Desert.

We must continue to call on the Trump administration – and all elected officials – to ensure that our air, water, and public lands, and the natural and cultural heritage they embody, are protected for generations to come.

According to a statewide poll released this earlier year by Hispanic Access Foundation, California voters agree. The survey found that residents of the Golden State, from all different walks of life, place great value on their access to public lands, and overwhelmingly believe that these spaces deserve to be protected. An overwhelming 95 percent of voters said that they support protecting public lands, and 78 percent of voters said that they oppose Trump’s decision to remove protections from public lands.

Opposition is even higher among California voters of color: 84 percent said they are opposed to Trump’s actions.

The threats to these public lands’ future represents an affront to diverse communities throughout our state and nation. Access to our state’s natural wonders shouldn’t be limited to those with the means to enjoy them; we must ensure that there are abundant opportunities for people from all walks of life, particularly from disadvantaged communities, to enjoy nature and outdoor recreation through federal public lands and waters, state parks and beaches, and local open spaces.

Attacks on our public land, air, and water threaten our coastline, peaks, valleys, and rivers. They also pose a direct threat to public health, placing in jeopardy the well being of families and children throughout our state. Everyone deserves the ability to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live healthy lives without those who exploit our natural resources doing unjust harm to our people.

Fortunately, many elected officials and community leaders throughout the Golden State understand what is at stake and have stood in defense of our environment. Our U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, as well as state officials Governor Jerry Brown, Senator Kevin de León, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, have repeatedly stood up to the Trump administration in defense of clean air, clean water, and public lands, both in California and across the nation.

Amidst the myriad challenges facing our country at this moment in time, we rely on our elected officials now more than ever to continue using their national platforms to make sure that environmental and health protections remain a priority for our nation.

We all share the moral obligation to protect our outdoor heritage, our clean air and water, and the public lands legacy of future generations. We can’t allow President Trump to dismantle protections for people, public lands, or clean air and water.

Ed’s Note: Robert Garcia is the civil rights advocate for The City Project, a non-profit legal and policy advocacy team in Los Angeles.

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