To the Bitter End, Trump Fights for “Scorched Earth” Regulations



From a reader:

In four years, Trump and his regime have done much to destroy nature and the environment. Now, even as he proclaims—despite all evidence—that he won the election and is on the path to a second term, his administration is defying rules and rejecting science in order to push through regulations against the environment, complete the sale of access to some of the last wild areas in the U.S., threaten species, and pump more planet-heating greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The vice president of the National Audubon Society called Trump’s actions “a real scorched-earth effort.” The Midnight Watch Project of the NYU School of Law is tracking 35 actions where the Trump regime is pushing to finalize very destructive environmental regulations in its final days. Regulations once formally approved are not easily undone; the process can take years.

While it is not unusual for a president to push through last-minute regulations, the methods that Trump is using break with previous legal norms. For example, Trump and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) want to approve leases for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), one of the last remaining wild areas in the United States. To complete the sale before January 20, the government would have to approve the 30-day notice of sale announcement immediately after a comment period expires in December, without time to review comments, a process that normally takes months. That would put the lease sale just days before the inauguration. After a sale, there is another process to formally approve it, which again normally takes months to complete. To deny Biden an opportunity to disapprove the leases, the BLM could immediately approve them. All of this goes against the spirit, if not the letter, of the law and could be challenged in courts. However, those courts are significantly packed with Trump-appointed judges who are hostile to environmental rules.

In addition to the ANWR lease, here are some of the other attacks that Trump and his regime are trying to ram through:

One regulation pending final approval would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from utilizing important studies that include personal health information. These studies are crucial to evaluating public health risks from chemicals. Trump uses the excuse that all underlying data must be public for research to be used to shape policy. In this case, personal health information would be made public, a violation of privacy, protected by law. There is no medical or scientific reason for this requirement. It is being demanded to eliminate evidence that points to the need to restrict people’s exposure to chemicals. More than 600,000 scientists and others wrote to the EPA opposing the change. The head of the Scientific Advisory Office at the EPA filed a formal complaint against this rule, writing, “This will compromise the scientific integrity of our scientists, the validity of our rulemaking, and possibly the health of the American People.”

Trump has removed the person in charge of producing the main U.S. report on climate change, the National Climate Assessment, replacing him with David Legates, a climate-change denier who says that burning more fossil fuels benefits humanity. A Biden administration could replace Legates. However, while he remains, Legates plans to appoint and contract with other climate deniers, who Biden would not be able to fire, to produce the report.

The Department of the Interior plans to open another Alaska preserve to drilling and to auction off oil and gas rights to more than 383,000 acres of federal land in other states, including public lands around New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon National Historical Park.

Other regulations that Trump is attempting to finalize include removing rules that punish companies for killing migrating birds; changing air quality standards; changing the Safe Drinking Water Act to slow down replacement of lead pipes, and allowing chemicals in the water that cause reproductive, developmental, liver, and kidney damage and have been linked to cancer; weakening the Endangered Species Act; rolling back standards for new power plants, and much more.

Trump and the Republican Party as a whole reject the well-established FACT that human society and much of the natural world is threatened by global heating due to the burning of fossil fuels. They view any attempt to protect the environment as a challenge to their “God-given right” to dominate nature, rape the planet for their wealth and power, and destroy the climate so America can be number one.

These regulations are a declaration that, even if Trump exits office, he will continue to be on a mission to destroy the natural world, even beyond the “normal” destruction of capitalism-imperialism, as well as fight to bring forward a fascist regime overall. He is backed by powerful forces in Congress, the courts, the military, and throughout the government, including in departments dedicated to science and protecting the environment, together with a rabid social base. As major damage to biological life on Earth looms, they will do everything they can to continue with their relentless assault on the planet.

All those who value the air, the water, nature, and people must be prepared to resist.


The USS Connecticut breaks through the ice-covered surface of the Beaufort Sea during a submarine exercise in March 2018. Trump plans to open federal waters of the Beaufort Sea for fossil fuel drilling. Photo: Micheal H. Lee/U.S. Navy

The Destruction of the Planet by Capitalism-Imperialism, by Bob Avakian, an excerpt



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