In a giant "middle finger" to the planet on Earth Day, President Donald Trump on Sunday put out a statement in which he called for an even deeper evisceration of environmental protections as he claimed a "market-based economy" was essential to protecting natural resources and also reaffirmed his commitment to "removing unnecessary and harmful regulations that restrain economic growth."
As experts and environmentalists have detailed ad nauseam, Trump—with the dedicated help from his EPA administrator Scott Pruitt—has been relentless, if not consistently successful, in destroying environmental protections and undermining any and all quality efforts designed to protect the nation's air, water, and natural beauty. In addition, the president has become the leader of a Republican Party that continues its cynical denial of the threat posed by global warming and the associated climate crisis.
The assault on the environment by the nation's right-wing forces has a long history, writes Paul Rosenberg for Salon on Sunday, but Trump and Pruitt have taken it to a whole new level.
"Republican attacks on the environment are nothing new," writes Rosenberg. "Yet there's a much greater ferocity this time around, which may be related to Trump's bombastic style. The subversion of science is more intense, and there are so many policy attacks on so many fronts it's impossible for the public to keep track. The threat of worsening climate change looms over them all, making the stakes higher than ever before."
As this reporting by the New York Times published on Sunday makes clear, many of the regulations the Trump administration is seeking to do away with were only made possible by the laws passed in the wake of the first Earth Day in 1970, an event itself that was born out of a realization of just how much utter destruction to the environment was being done by unregulated "market-based" forces:
A huge oil spill. A river catching fire. Lakes so polluted they were too dangerous for fishing or swimming. Air so thick with smog it was impossible to see the horizon.
That was the environmental state of the nation 50 years ago.But pollution and disasters prompted action. On April 22, 1970, millions of people throughout the country demonstrated on the inaugural Earth Day, calling for air, water and land in the country to be cleaned up and protected. And that year, in a bipartisan effort, the Environmental Protection Agency was created and key legislation — the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act — came into force.
Now, the Trump administration has made eliminating federal regulations a priority, and an increasing number of environmental rules are under threat.
Because of that, he added, "my Administration is dedicated to removing unnecessary and harmful regulations that restrain economic growth and make it more difficult for local communities to prosper and to choose the best solutions for their environment."
As journalist and author Naomi Klein detailed in her 2015 book, This Changes Everything, the connections between unregulated capitalism and the crisis of global warming and ecological degradation at the hands of fossil fuel companies and their industrial benefactors are intricately woven together.
As Common Dreams reported in that same year, a pair of academic reports showed that "in just 60 years, neoliberal capitalism has nearly broken planet Earth."
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And so clarifying the subtext of Trump's Sunday message was not difficult to decode. Unregulated capitalism, corporate dominance, and rapacious greed is good. Even if it wrecks the planet.
And some of the responses to his message were also rather easy to interpret:
— unapologetic realist (@realreellakesid) April 22, 2018
In honor of Earth Day, I send an especially heartfelt “FUCK YOU” to @EPAScottPruitt and @realDonaldTrump on behalf of the planet and our grandchildren. More emphatically I include the @HouseGOP & @SenateGOP, with a special mention to @SenateMajLdr and @SpeakerRyan.
— BelowRadar (@radar_below) April 22, 2018
Happy #EarthDay everyone!
— Jon Hopper (@Hoppalicious) April 22, 2018
— kayla (@kaylaisbananas) April 22, 2018