One Trump year is like one dog year – very long! Tomorrow, January 20th, is the first anniversary of his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States. A lot has happened, both silly and serious. The tweets and braggadocio coming from the White House have been entertaining and frightening. Also so mind-occupying that it’s hard to think of the serious stuff that’s happened. Actual legislation passed, revoked, deferred and proposed.
So here’s a summary of just one aspect of the past Trump year, the effect of his administration on the environment.
Earth’s 1st Trump Year
January 20, 2017
Trump is inaugurated. He says he’s going to drain the swamp. He meant the swamp of Washington politicos. But it’s real swamps that need to worry.
January 24, 2017
Trump issues memoranda to permit Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. He does this despite indigenous peoples’ protests and environmental concerns.
January 25, 2017
All references to climate change removed from White House website.
February 1, 2017
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is appointed Secretary of State. From 18 Dec 2016 in OilPrice.com:
[P]utting Tillerson at Secretary of State does present some questions over conflict of interest. After all, Tillerson could be instrumental in removing sanctions on Russia, which would be a highly favorable outcome for ExxonMobil, where Tillerson has worked for his entire 41-year career… As Vox’s Brad Plumer succinctly put it, “In a lot of ways, Putin and Exxon need each other. And Tillerson is now in the middle.”
February 14, 2017
Trump signs a Congressional Review Act resolution that ends a financial disclosure requirement for energy companies.
February 16, 2017
Trump signs joint resolution passed by Congress revoking “Stream Protection Rule”. The rule had placed restrictions on dumping mining waste into surrounding waterways.
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt confirmed as head of Environmental Protection Agency. When he was Attorney General for Oklahoma, Pruitt was best known for suing the EPA. He was also known for his close relationship with oil and gas companies.
March 2, 2017
Newly appointed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rescinds ban on lead ammunition on federal lands and waters. NRA approves the move as being good for hunters. Conservation groups disapprove as poisonous for wildlife.
March 6, 2017
After ordering an EPA review of it on Feb 28th, Trump announced his decision to rescind or revise the “Clean Water Rule: Waters of the United States”. Intended to clarify federal jurisdiction over US waters, it had extended federal protection to some waterways, wetlands and lakes.
March 7, 2017
EPA Office of Science and Technology removes word “science” from its mission statement. New wording stresses “economically and technologically achievable performance standards”.
March 13, 2017
First preliminary budget makes cuts to EPA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, other science and environmental agencies and social programmes. The cuts are made in order to allow $54 billion increase to defense spending.
March 15, 2017
EPA considers rolling back emissions standards for future new vehicles, as goal of greater fuel efficiency said to be unachievable.
March 17, 2017
EPA does not rescind $100 million to Michigan for water infrastructure upgrades in Flint. Hurray.
March 21, 2017
The rusty patched bumblebee is listed as an endangered species. Trump had previously signed an executive order that delayed its listing by one month. It used to be a variety of bee commonly found in North America.
March 24, 2017
Keystone XL pipeline given permit by State Department.
March 27, 2017
Oil is pumped into the Dakota Access Pipeline.
March 28, 2017
Trump signs Executive Order to begin rescinding EPA’s Clean Power Plan, moratorium on coal leases, and more.
April 3, 2017
Trump donates first quarter of his presidential salary to National Park Service. His 2018 budget plan includes a $1.5 billion cut to the Department of the Interior. The National Park Service is part of that department. Funding for some National Heritage Areas will be eliminated.
April 19, 2017
All but one reference to climate change are removed from the climate change page on the Interior Department’s website.
April 26, 2017
Trump signs Antiquities Executive Order, instructing review of national monuments created since 1996.
April 28, 2017
Trump signs an executive order for a review of bans on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Also stops designation or expansion of National Marine Sanctuaries unless an “energy or mineral resource potential” estimate has been done by the Interior Department.
April 28, 2017
EPA climate change website is removed, remaining on the new page only in archived form.
May 5, 2017
EPA dismisses several scientists from the Board of Scientific Counselors. The EPA says this allows a “more diverse” membership of the board, including industry representatives.
May 23, 2017
Trump sends his budget to Congress. It proposes a 31% cut to the EPA budget. It also eliminates Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound restoration programmes.
June 1, 2017
Trump says the US will pull out of the Paris climate agreement.
June 12, 2017
Interior Secretary recommending decreasing size of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
June 13, 2017
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cancels a rule designed to prevent endangered whales, dolphins and sea turtles getting entangled in fishing nets.
August 7, 2017
Interior Department recommends relaxing plan for protection of greater sage grouse habitat. The Department also recommends reprioritizing oil development in the affected federal lands.
August 15, 2017
Trump revokes federal flood-risk standards that took predictions of rising sea levels into account. He also announced that environmental review for infrastructure projects would be ” streamlined” and speeded up.
August 22, 2017
Interior Departmental Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement stops a study of health risks from mountaintop removal coal mining. Also, the Trump administration disbanded a federal advisory panel for National Climate Assessment.
October 9, 2018
EPA head Scott Pruitt announces plan to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, saying “the war on coal is over.”
October 23, 2017
Department of Interior announces largest ever auction of offshore oil and gas leases. 77 million acres of federal water in the Gulf of Mexico outer continental shelf, off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The announcement comes days after a 672,000 gallon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico due to a pipeline leak off the coast of Louisiana.
December 4, 2017
Trump announces an 85% reduction in size of Bears Ears National Monument and an almost 50% reduction of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Both are in Utah. The Valley of the Gods, above, is now outside the boundaries..
December 18, 2017
Trump administration drops climate change from national security threat list.
December 20, 2017
Congress approves opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. It was bundled with the tax reform bill.
December 22, 2017
Department of the Interior removes “incidental takes” – industry-caused bird deaths – from being a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
January 4, 2018
Interior Department releases new offshore drilling plans. 5 days later, Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts are excluded. “Florida is obviously unique” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. It’s also home to Trump’s “Winter White House”.
January 6, 2018
Interior Department says it will approve a road to be built through Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. One village and a fish cannery wanted it. It was added to the tax reform bill passed by Congress in December.
January 15, 2018
Nine of the 12 member National Park System Advisory Board resign. From their letter of resignation: “For the last year we have stood by waiting for the chance to meet” with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Trump Year Chronologies
This chronology is based on National Geographic’s A Running List of How Trump is Changing the Environment. Also well worth looking at for environmental, social and economic impacts of one Trump year is The Trump Effect compiled by Reuters.