What does Trump’s presidency mean for the environment?

Salah-Dean Satouri, Staff Writer

In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon fought for the environment by creating policies such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, as well as establishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Despite these actions, Nixon’s efforts to improve the environment are often overshadowed due to a presidency plagued with scandals. Although he was nearly impeached, Nixon’s actions made the 1970s a decade of focused efforts to improve the environment. Some believe President Donald Trump’s environmental policy is likely to undo much of the work Nixon and other succeeding presidents put into action. Trump intends to pull America out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, limit the EPA, repeal environmental regulations and cut federal funding designated to prevent global climate change. These policies are a point for concern for conservatives and liberals alike, but some see the deregulation as a positive action that will bring jobs back to the American people.

Out of all of Trump’s promises, the one that some believe poses the greatest significance is the promise to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which is a collaborative measure within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which tackles the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within 194 signatory countries. They feel that the revocation of this agreement will have detrimental effects on the environment.

“With climate change being a world problem that is becoming increasingly relevant by the day, I think that leaving the agreement would have horrible effects,” junior Quinn Dunham said. “We must focus on the environment and protect the very little that is left.”

On the contrary, others believe that the Paris Climate Agreement will do very little to combat global climate change. A recent article in The Independent quotes scientists who feel the agreement “holds false hope and is full of deadly flaws.” The scientists argue that by the time the agreement is put into action, carbon dioxide emissions will thrust the world into irreversible environmental damage.

“I believe the effects will be relatively neutral,” junior Max Read said. “Just because Trump promises to pull the United States out of the agreement doesn’t mean he will or can.”

The truth is that the process to leave a ratified agreement will take a minimum of four years.

Under Trump’s administration, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been appointed to head the EPA. Pruitt has a record of opposing many environmental acts concerning clean air, clean water and environmental and health protections. Some believe Pruitt’s ideology and past may help him in his role as head of the EPA. Pruitt, who has sued the EPA 13 times, is skeptical of climate change, and Pruitt supporters feel that because of this, he will be fully aware of the limitations of the EPA. These individuals also believe that environmental regulations are business deterrents and a symbol of the power the federal government is assuming.

“I believe Pruitt will be a great head of the EPA because he is close to the fossil fuel industry,” senior Benjamin Warsocki said. “This will help him and the EPA effectively manage these businesses.”

Others do not hold this ideology, and feel Pruitt will be a detrimental addition to the EPA.

“Many people and scientists do realize that fossil fuels are limited and we must look to other sources of energies,” environmental science teacher Anne Fenton said.  

The issue of the environment is largely divided with some sentiments that a Trump presidency is a step in the right direction, while others feel it is a giant leap backward. No matter what a certain individual believes, only time will tell what a Trump presidency will mean for the environment.