Just four days into his presidency, Donald Trump has declared an all out war on our natural environment. In a frenzy of executive orders and directives, the Trump administration has frozen all EPA grants and ordered the agency not to talk about it, pledged to slash environmental regulations for car manufacturers, and signed an executive order to push forward the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
Given 2016 was by scientific consensus the hottest year since record keeping began, this is nothing short of a tragedy. Just at a time when we need our political leaders to listen to the overwhelming cries for help from every reputable climate scientist, geologist, biologist and ecologist on the planet, Trump has instead decided to accelerate environmental destruction.
Given part of this includes defying the mass protests surrounding the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline, it may also prove to be his biggest mistake as president. As the Huffington Post reported, the environmental consequences of the pipelines are enormous:
The [Keystone] pipeline would largely pump oil from tar sands ― a noxious mix of sand, clay and bitumen, a thick, viscous oil ― to refineries on the Gulf coast of Texas. Keystone XL would carry 830,000 barrels of tar sand oil, considered one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, into the U.S. daily, producing emissions equivalent to putting 5.6 million new cars on the road, according to estimates by the environmental nonprofit Friends of the Earth.
Both pipelines became a huge rallying point of environmental activism and captured the world’s attention as Americans from all walks of life stood with the Sioux Indians at Standing Rock and refused to let big oil endanger native land and pollute our drinking water. The symbolism of what the Standing Rock protests meant cannot be underestimated, and Trump has made a very big error in taking it on.
There is a growing perception amongst Americans, particularly the younger generations, that global warming is real and dramatic action is needed. Trump has now given the environmental movement a perfect target and another cause to organize around. And given the stakes, expect to see a movement equal to that of the women who marched around the country after Trump’s inauguration.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.