U.S. House of Representatives
In just the first 100 days of his presidency, President Donald Trump has shown ample disregard for environmental justice and protection. In a short period of time, the president made clear his agenda – anti-climate, anti-science and anti-fact. The current administration has already taken significant steps, in lock-step with congressional Republicans, to roll back and erase the progress made by the Obama administration to protect our health, our public lands and our precious environment.
Since taking office, President Trump has signed a number of executive orders reversing many of President Obama’s environmental protections – promoting cleaner air, cleaner water and more sustainable energy production. The current White House is on a fast track to overturn decades of progress and set our nation back in the effort to combat climate change. The Clean Power Plan, which established comprehensive carbon emission standards and put the United States at the forefront of global environmental stewardship, was one of Trump’s first targets. Instead of investing in technological and scientific innovation to make America a leader in greener, cleaner, sustainable energy production and consumption, President Trump has used his office to support the interests of corporations and interests in big oil and dirty coal on the backs of hardworking Americans.
Furthermore, the current administration has promulgated efforts to expand environmentally detrimental offshore drilling, allow the dumping of mining waste and potentially force an exit from the 2015 Paris Agreement that brought the world’s powers together in agreement to curb our collective carbon emissions.
The proposed budget goes even further in rejecting evidenced-based policymaking. From proposals to cripple the Environmental Protection Agency and zero-out critical programs at the Department of Energy like ARPA-E, this administration has abandoned our nation’s effort to protect our planet and be a global leader.
The effect of this administration’s attack on critical environmental health protections spares none, including Dallas. Despite major improvements thanks to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, Dallas still ranks as the 13th most polluted region for harmful ozone in our air throughout Texas and Oklahoma. In fact, the Metroplex is on track to having more than 45,000 asthma attacks by 2025 – a nation-worst. As recent as 2015, Dallas was ranked the seventh most ozone polluted city in the United States.
The Trump administration’s blatant disregard toward the health, economic and national security risks associated with global climate change is shortsighted and will only further endanger Americans’ health, security and economic stability. While we will all suffer from the consequences of shortsighted federal policy, the heaviest burden is bound to fall on those already marginalized.
Minorities and working class families are already struggling to make ends meet, but study after study shows that they are the most vulnerable to environmental injustices. Subject to downwind and downstream pollution, children and families who are economically disadvantaged often lack the political voice to keep industries from polluting their communities and frequently bear the brunt of deregulatory regimes. Take Flint, Michigan, for example, where young children have been exposed to toxic levels of lead from their drinking water. That is wrong and morally bankrupt – it should be unheard of in the world’s most powerful nation.
Where is the freedom in living in a community where there is no access to clean drinking water, or a city where children are forced to stay inside because the air is so polluted? We can and must do better. The actions the president has set forth thus far do nothing to Make America Great Again, rather, his first 100 days has only made America more polluted, less safe and less secure. The health effects of poor air quality are real and we cannot afford to take a step back while the health and future of our children and families are at stake.
U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.