President Trump delivered a major speech on the environment yesterday without mentioning climate change.
The 45-minute address in the East Room of the White House featured a president who dedicated much of his first term to unraveling environmental protections established by former President Obama. At his side were three Cabinet secretaries overseeing energy and environment issues; two of them are former lobbyists for the coal and oil industries.
In the audience were lawmakers from energy-rich states and representatives of think tanks that question climate science.
“We have only one America; we have only one planet. That’s why every day of my presidency we will fight for a cleaner environment and a better quality of life for every one of our great citizens,” Trump said.
The speech came as a growing number of Americans express concern about climate change and, in particular, the Trump administration’s unwillingness to address the issue. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll released over the weekend, just 29% of Americans said they approved of Trump’s climate policies, the lowest of any issue.
Democrats have used Trump’s rejection of climate science as a cudgel in the early stages of the presidential campaign. Most of the 2020 candidates have called for a Democratic primary debate that focuses on that single issue. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the gulf between Democrats and Republicans on climate change “has been growing month by month, year by year.”
“He never mentioned the word ‘climate change,’” Hickenlooper said in an interview. “You’re taking one of the largest, most urgent challenges facing not just this country but the world, and you put your head in the sand, like an ostrich. By not acknowledging it, it doesn’t make it go away.”
Hours before Trump spoke, a downpour flooded streets outside the White House and sent torrents of rainwater into a nearby subway station, causing a portion of the system to temporarily shut down. A pool of water formed in the White House basement. That type of intense precipitation is the result of rising temperatures, according to scientists.
EPA warned that those effects would happen in the District of Columbia in a warmer climate, before the webpage carrying that report was buried by the Trump administration.
“Almost all of the land in and adjacent to Federal Triangle is low-lying and vulnerable to flooding from severe rainstorms or high water levels in the Potomac River,” reads the report, which was archived on the EPA website and made harder to find.
The White House invited critics of climate science to yesterday’s event; they were seated in the audience near the president’s top advisers. Standing next to Trump was EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, whose agency is dismantling regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and cars. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was close by. He told Congress recently that he doesn’t lose sleep over rising temperatures. The Interior Department has been removing references to climate change from its press releases about agency research, including a recent study that showed billions of dollars of real estate on the California coastline is threatened by a warmer world
(Climatewire, July 8).