Donald Trump has put to rest any doubts that he would be a terrible President for the US environment this week, by freezing all EPA grant funding programs and literally censoring the agency and its employees, declaring environmentalism “out of control,” and reviving the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.
So, that bodes well …
“Environmentalism is out of control”
In a meeting Tuesday with automotive executives, Donald Trump informed them that he will halt “unnecessary” environmental regulations, making it easier for General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler to build plants in the United States.
In doing so, Donald Trump informed the executives that “I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it, but it’s out of control.”
EPA Funding Freeze
It has also been reported that Donald Trump’s administration has imposed a freeze on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), halting all its grant programs which provide critical funding for research, development of former industrial sites, and air quality monitoring, among other things.
The freeze is almost certainly one-of-a-kind, and sources inside the EPA have expressed their surprise and shock at the move.
As of the moment, it is unclear whether the freeze is indefinite or temporary, however one source quoted by The Huffington Post said that a review of all grants would be completed by Friday.
Censoring the EPA
Numerous reports have also revealed that the Trump administration has clamped down on the free exchange of information from several agencies, including the EPA, Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Specifically, The Huffington Post received the following memo which explains the draconian measures that have suddenly been implemented:
I just returned from a briefing for Communication Directors where the following information was provided. These restrictions are effective immediately and will remain in place until further direction is received from the new Administration’s Beach Team. Please review this material and share with all appropriate individuals in your organization. If anyone on your staff receives a press inquiry of any kind, it must be referred to me so I can coordinate with the appropriate individuals in OPA.
- No press releases will be going out to external audiences.
- No social media will be going out. A Digital Strategist will be coming on board to oversee social media. Existing, individually controlled, social media accounts may become more centrally controlled.
- No blog messages.
- The Beach Team will review the list of upcoming webinars and decide which ones will go forward.
- Please send me a list of any external speaking engagements that are currently scheduled among any of your staff from today through February.
- Incoming media requests will be carefully screened.
- No new content can be placed on any website. Only do clean up where essential.
- List servers will be reviewed. Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press.
I will provide updates to this information as soon as I receive it.
Goodbye, EPA Climate Page
The EPA is also scrambling to save its climate change page from its website, after being ordered to remove the climate change page entirely. “If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear,” one of the EPA staffers told Reuters, who also informed Reuters that some of the EPA’s employees had begun trying to save some of the information housed on its website, while also trying to convince the Trump administration to preserve at least parts of the website.
Tweet Today, Gone Tomorrow
Further censorship action has been revealed as the Badlands National Park Twitter account found itself the source of plenty of attention. The National Park Service Twitter account had already been briefly suspended following its publication of accurate information regarding the size of this year’s Inauguration crowd. On Tuesday, the Badlands National Park Twitter account posted several Tweets reporting scientifically accurate information, which have since been taken down.
Unsurprisingly, this bevy of censorship has not gone unnoticed.
“These actions will stem the free flow of information and have a chilling effect on staff in these agencies,” said Sam Adams, US Director, World Resources Institute. “This flies in the face of effective policymaking which requires an open exchange of ideas, supported by the best science and evidence available. Curtailing communications from these agencies will hinder their ability to provide clean air and water and protect people’s health across the country. The administration should lift these bans as soon as possible and ensure that the role of science is respected within our government agencies.”
Keystone XL & Dakota Access Receive Presidential Approval
Finally, to top off a surreal day, President Trump signed executive orders which would begin a renegotiating process of the highly disputed Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.
“This is with regard to the construction of the Keystone pipeline, something that’s been in dispute and it’s subject to renegotiation by us,” said Donald Trump as he signed the executive orders. “We’re going to renegotiate some of the terms and if they’d like, we’ll see if we can get that pipeline built.”
Signing orders to move forward with the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines in the Oval Office. pic.twitter.com/OErGmbBvYK
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2017
So … that bodes well…
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