Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Crimes against humanity

The Republican Party has been called the most dangerous organization in human history dedicated to the prospect of ending the prospect of human survival. The Trump administration has been doing its best to prove this axiom true with deliberate actions that deplete our water and food supply while exacerbating climate change and its devastating effects.

Climate Change is already hitting our planet hard with extreme weather from deadly droughts and more frequent fires to severe storms and hurricanes such as Harvey and Irma in the U.S. and even more destructive storms in Asia.

While single extreme events can't be attributed to man-made climate change, climate change is becoming an increasingly important factor for changing the odds of occurrence and intensity of these events,

Every day more people are being killed or having their lives destroyed as the result of the extreme weather caused by climate change. In this time when we need the most powerful person in the world to lead the transition to clean energy and rally the American people to make the sacrifices necessary to fight climate change, Trump has gone the opposite direction by: cutting funding for clean energy, eliminating environmental regulations on coal production, withdrawing U.S. participation in the Paris Climate agreement, firing scientists, defunding climate change research, and removing any mention of climate change data from government websites.

As a regular contributor to Desktop Activist Tucson, I have followed the government’s nearly daily assaults on our planet. Here are some of the actions that the Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress have done to make our planet uninhabitable for humans and wildlife.

Attacks on our water supply

On his first day of office, Trump signed an executive order approving the Keystone XL Pipeline and allowing Energy Transfer Partnership to continue building the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe along the Missouri River without conducting the court mandated environmental impact study. This action puts the drinking water for 18 million Americans at risk.

In order to survive we need water. We don't have an indefinite supply. Freshwater makes up a very small fraction of all water on the planet. While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields.

It is important to conserve our water, especially here in the Arizona desert. As droughts become more severe, there will be more competition from other states for our quickly diminishing water source, the Colorado River.

But instead of protecting our water, the Trump administration has proposed rolling back the Clean Water Rule -.critical protections for streams and wetlands This dangerous action would put human health, wildlife, and the drinking water for 1 in 3 of us at risk of pollution and destruction.  The Clean Water Rule protects drinking water sources for more than 117 million Americans;

President Trump and the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt are trying to dismantle National Monuments protections (including 4 in Arizona), which would allow mining and fracking on protected lands with rivers and streams that feed into our main water supply.

The House (including Rep. McSally) recently passed a law removing regulations that stop mines from dumping their toxic tailings into our streams.

President Trump and Scott Pruitt are changing the rules on what waterways qualify for protections under the Waters of the U.S. If this passes, companies like Raytheon will legally be allowed to dump their toxic waste into Tucson’s non-perennial rivers. Pima Country has already spent billions building a treatment center to clean up the toxic waste that Raytheon, the airport, and the Air Force let seep into the aquifer in South Tucson.

Animas River spill
President Trump is aggressively trying to destroy the EPA by cutting funding. The House spending bill (H.R. 3354) is full of dangerous loopholes (called “riders”) that gut environmental funding and put our children’s health at risk, while letting polluters off the hook for bad behavior. This bill slashes the EPA budget by an unfathomable $528 million, taking America decades backward in protecting the environment.  (Sen. Martha McSally voted to cut funding for the EPA by $500 million.) The old EPA held the companies (above) accountable for poisoning our water supply and paid for the annual cleanup of Tucson's monsoon flood damage.

In order to push through the construction of his border wall, the President has waived environmental laws and regulations on how to safely build the wall. Hasty construction could damage our water infrastructure.

Attacks on animals, oceans and our food supply

President Trump's wall will also destroy the habitats for 111 endangered species and 108 migrant birds.

CO2 is making the oceans acidic. This has caused over 40% of the corral reefs to dissolve into sand. If we keep going the way we are, by 2050 all of the reefs will be gone. Sea creatures, an important part of our food supply, are dying off. Yet the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is reviewing lease sales for new offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The Trump administration has made it clear that they will open up more protected shorelines, even Marine preserves, to offshore drilling.  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that “nothing is off the table”- even the Pacific. On April 28, Trump signed an executive order that revokes limits on offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans. He has instructed Zinke to review the five-year plan imposed by President Barack Obama that blocked the sale of new federal leases in California waters until 2022.

Montara Oil Spill 

Congress has proposed a bill allowing drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve - that would threaten several endangered species.

The National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) is the largest contiguous block of public land in the United States (22.5 million acres). The Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act of 1976 mandated that the BLM manage Alaska's western Arctic and recognized that the reserve contained a number of important values—subsistence fish and wildlife that should be conserved through balanced management. This mandate later resulted in the designation of five special areas where most parcels were made “unavailable for leasing.” But now the BLM is asking for comments on whether to open these areas to oil and gas development.

Scott Pruitt directed his staff to withdraw a plan to protect the watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska, one of the most valuable wild salmon fisheries on Earth that produces approximately 46% of the world’s wild sockeye harvest. In 2014, after three years of peer-reviewed study, the Obama administration's EPA invoked a rarely used provision of the Clean Water Act to try to protect Bristol Bay after finding that a mine "would result in complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources" in some areas of the bay. All of these losses would be irreversible.

President Trump has commissioned Scott Pruitt to delay implementing the EPA rule to reduce mercury emissions on coal plants which has been poisoning our sea food.

The U.S. House of Representatives overturned a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule that stopped unsporting predator control methods in Alaskan wildlife refuges: shooting or trapping wolves while in their dens with cubs, using airplanes to hunt for grizzly bears, trapping bears with cruel steel-jawed leghold traps and wire snares, and luring grizzly bears with food to get a point blank kill.

President Trump nominated Michael Dourson, best friend to the chemical industry, to lead the EPA’s toxics program. This is going in the wrong direction. Pesticides are already killing off our bees that pollinate the produce we eat.

President Trump has nominated climate “skeptic” Sam Clovis,  a radio talk show host with no scientific or agricultural background to be the chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Farmers need the USDA to help them address and adapt to a changing climate.

Our fruits and vegetables are being sprayed with a dangerous neurotoxin called chlorpyrifos, and despite mounting scientific evidence and the EPA's own recommendation, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt decided to let the pesticide stay legal.

Actions that exacerbate climate change and its deadly effects

President Trump pledged to bring back the dying and antiquated coal industry that adds carbon into the air  - one of the main contributors to climate change.

The Bureau of Land Management is considering another massive, 441 million ton coal mine expansion on public lands in Wyoming. For context, this is more than 50 times as much coal as Colstrip, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the United States, burns in a year.

Northwesterners could face higher cancer rates, increased risk of rail accidents and air heavy with coal dust—all due to coal trains barreling through neighborhoods and along the shore of the Columbia River, carrying coal that will produce 2 million tons of global greenhouse gas emissions.
That is, if Cowlitz County and the Washington Department of Ecology allow the largest coal export terminal in the United States to be built in Longview, Washington.

Power plants account for 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions - the primary green house gas that creates climate change. That's more than every car, truck, and plane in the U.S. combined. On August 3, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new rules, or standards, that will reduce carbon emissions from power plants for the first time. Previously, power plants were allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere — no rules were in effect that limited their emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary driver of global warming. These standards, known as the Clean Power Plan, have been developed under the Clean Air Act, an act of Congress that requires the EPA to take steps to reduce air pollution that harms the public's health. The president is dismantling the Clean Power Plan.

Interior Secretary Zinke proposed rescission of Bureau of Land Management Hydraulic Fracturing Rule, 82 Fed. Reg. 34464 on July 25, 2017. The Bureau of Land Management's 2015 rule addresses hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. Fracking has caused earthquakes in Oklahoma, contributes to climate change, and causes toxic tailings to seep into our ground water.

Automakers are not only petitioning President Trump to weaken the vehicle efficiency standards, they're now pushing their congressional allies to escalate attacks on these standards as well. As part of these attacks, Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan) have introduced bills that would give automakers free credits which they can use to significantly slow their progress on making cars more fuel efficient into the future. Ultimately this legislation would increase oil use by 350 million barrels of oil, increase global warming emissions by 155 million metric tons, and take money ($34 billion!) directly out of American families' wallets. Automakers are using every trick in the book to undermine successful vehicle efficiency standards -the ones that help us all go farther on a gallon of gas and protect our environment and health.

President Trump almost entirely dismantled the EPA by cutting departments and firing scientists. Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is failing to uphold its mission to protect human and environmental health. In fact, the EPA is being used to undermine important protections for people and the planet, like the Clean Air Act. The EPA accepted public comments on its proposal to delay implementation of parts of an important rule on protecting public health and the climate from methane pollution from oil and natural gas projects.

Mitch McConnell bypassed Senate procedure to ram a terrible dirty energy bill S 1460 through Congress. This bill would expedite approval for liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities to ship more fracked gas abroad. It would enable more pipelines. On top of that, the "Renewables" section of the bill doesn't even mention solar or wind energy.

President Trump has cut subsidies for clean energy production while increasing support of fossil fuel production in the US. Fossil fuel production adds methane and carbon into the atmosphere that contributes to climate change.

The Trump budget proposed cutting 900 million dollars from the office of science at the Department of Energy.

In addition to Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, President Trump has recently nominated non-scientist, climate change deniers to lead important departments. Trump just nominated anti-science, climate denier Jim Bridenstine to run NASA. Jim Bridenstine is not a scientist. He’s a member of Congress with no experience in space.

President Trump rolled back the increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that would have forced automakers to improve fuel efficiency (and lower the carbon emissions) of the cars they sell.

In this speech,  Racing To The Precipice, Noam Chomsky said, "The Republican wrecking machine is systematically dismantling the institutions that offer some hope for decent survival."

Just 10 days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Donald Trump signed an executive order to reverse potentially life-saving flood safety rules implemented by Pres. Obama. This destructive, irresponsible decision risks American lives when future disasters strike. The Federal Flood Risk Management Standard requires federal agencies to take sea level rise and flood risks into account when funding new infrastructure or rebuilding after disasters.  It is the first new U.S. flood protection rule in 40 years,  and a former official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) called it "the most significant action taken in a generation" to safeguard U.S. infrastructure.

Some might excuse President Trump and his administration because they don't believe in climate change. But being ignorant is no excuse. If an ignorant parent neglected the needs of their child, wouldn't they be tried for reckless endangerment? Isn't it worse to endanger all of humanity? But just like the CEOs of big oil companies (a former Exxon CEO is in Trump's cabinet), I'm guessing that they know about climate change and have decided to profit from it. No doubt the president's plan to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure is to privatize it. That would include giving our depleted water supply away to big corporations like Nestle to divvy out as they please. Creating a shortage by poisoning our water with toxic tailings would just increase their profits. That would give even more power to the oligarchy that already owns most of our politicians. They would own US and what's left of the planet.

Hold them accountable for their crimes against humanity.

Some might try to excuse the president by saying that Obama also contributed to climate change - even though he believed in it. And they would be right about Obama. President Obama had his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flying around the globe to convince world leaders to allow fracking. He didn't sign on to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline until his last few days in office - because his administration was building an oil infrastructure. He was complicit in selling the idea of "clean coal" and "oil independence" that  President Trump is now taking to town. The media should have done a better job of informing the American people. And we should have called President Obama out on that. At least, President Obama finally put in place the environmental regulations and protections that the Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress are now working hard to dismantle.

We have got to stop making excuses for our president and government officials, and hold them accountable for the disastrous executive orders and bills that they are pushing through. We have got to stay on top of it, and demand that they create and uphold laws that protect our planet and our future on it.  If not us, who? If not now, when?

More Information: 

95 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump - UPDATED December 21, 2019

I can't keep up with all of them! 

Times article: 23 Environmental Rules Rolled Back in Trump’s First 100 Days

Clean Water Action's Congressional tracker here.

EPA Withdraws Air Pollution Policy

Check in daily for updates on harmful bills being proposed by Congress and calls to action such as signing petitions, calling your reps, or opportunities to submit public comments: desktopactivisttucson.blogspot.com


  1. Sorry this list of attacks on our planet is so long! It's overwhelming, isn't it? What I have to deal with every day!

  2. Added July 7, 2018 See link to Times article below blog.