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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler looks at a pamphlet about Superfund sites at EPA's New York City office on March 4, 2019. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As Trump Reportedly Scrambles to Find Climate 'Victories' Ahead of 2020, Green Group Says: 'There Are None'

"Trump and his fossil fuel industry lackies like Andrew Wheeler are recklessly driving this country off the climate cliff."

Julia Conley

After it was reported this week that President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign has ordered the EPA to find climate "victories" that he can brag about on the 2020 campaign trail, a green group on Friday said the administration can stop looking "because there simply are none."

In a tacit admission that voters are increasingly concerned about climate action, Trump is reportedly seeking a list of positive effects his presidency has had on the environment, according to McClatchy—even as he shows no signs of stopping his pro-fossil fuel, anti-regulatory agenda.

"This administration hates the environment. It cares only about corporate profit." —Scott Edwards, Food & Water Watch

The Sierra Club denounced Trump's quest as "absurd" and called on the president to reverse his many anti-climate policies if he'd like to be recognized by voters as an environmental leader.

"Donald Trump is the worst president in history for our climate and our environment, and his attempt to say otherwise is an outright lie," executive director Michael Brune said. "His administration is fighting tooth and nail to roll back some of the most important climate action policies in history, like the Clean Power Plan, the clean car standards, and the methane rule. He's tried bailing out coal billionaires and their failing plants with taxpayer dollars. He's pushed to drill anywhere and everywhere. And he's repeatedly peddled lies about clean energy and even the existence of climate change. If Trump is looking to show off climate victories, he could start by reversing every single action taken and proposal he's put forward."

Offering one proposal for how Trump could easily begin to promote himself as a climate leader, dozens of environmental groups—including Food & Water Watch, Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth, and WildEarth Guardians—on Thursday filed a petition calling on the EPA to officially categorize greenhouse gases as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), under section 112 of the Clear Air Act. The move would enable the agency to strictly regulate greenhouse gases and would "drastically lower" emissions, the group says.

"Even before Trump, as the planet was heating up and weather disasters were intensifying, the EPA was sitting on its hands and avoiding meaningful climate emissions action," Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement. "Outrage is growing toward corporations like Exxon that knew for decades the harm their fossil fuel pollution was doing to the planet and its people. But it's the EPA that has allowed these companies to get away with such malfeasance all these years."

The organizations have repeatedly condemned the Trump administration for propping up the coal industry, rolling back anti-pollution standards, and denying that the climate crisis is driven by human activity.

Even as Trump put pressure on EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to find evidence that he is working to stem the effects of the climate crisis, he furthered his attacks on the environment this week. The White House is currently considering a new advisory committee on the climate which would count climate deniers among its ranks.

Wheeler also testified before Congress this week in defense of his proposed budget, which would cut funding for the Atmospheric Protection Program—which tracks greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—by 90 percent.

"Trump and his fossil fuel industry lackies like Andrew Wheeler are recklessly driving this country off the climate cliff," Scott Edwards, legal director for Food & Water Watch, told Common Dreams. "Our petition to the EPA is intended to force the agency to finally follow the law and transform the U.S. from the biggest climate polluter on the planet to the leader in the global race to achieve a livable clean energy future."

So far, McClatchy reported, the president plans to brag during the 2020 campaign that greenhouse gas emissions have gone down since he took office. While technically true, emissions were reduced at a slower rate during his first year in office than during the Obama administration.

On his campaign website, Trump lists his planned expansion of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, his rollback of the Obama-era methane rule, and his call for an end to the Clean Power Plan among his "energy and environment" accomplishments. The rollback of the latter is expected to lead to 1,400 premature deaths per year, according to Trump's own EPA.

"As for environmental 'victories' in this administration, there simply are none," Edwards told Common Dreams. "This administration hates the environment. It cares only about corporate profit."

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