June 5th is World Environment Day and it comes just as the world is on fire. Between the lockdowns and the unrest, the media has been focused on everything other than the environment. This means that the Trump administration has been able to attack Obama-era protections on the natural world.
First, he's overturned protections on the Northeast Canyons and Seamount Marine National Monument in New England, allowing commercial fishing to invade these fragile ecosystems. In addition, the administration plans to strip protections from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act has provided protection for nearly extinct species like Snowy Egret, Wood Duck, and Sandhill Crane.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was meant to defend against industrial threats to the environment like BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill 10 years ago, which killed over 1 million birds when oil from the blown-out rig covered the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed repeal of the protections have been hotly protested by scientists, activists, and the public. This comes on the heels of the administration's order to waive laws surrounding the constructions of pipelines, which was enacted under an "economic emergency."
“From the beginning of my Administration, I have focused on reforming and streamlining an outdated regulatory system that has held back our economy with needless paperwork and costly delays,” Trump wrote in the order. “The need for continued progress in this streamlining effort is all the more acute now, due to the ongoing economic crisis.”
“In the midst of two national crises over systemic racism and a pandemic that rages on, the president has decided to prioritize opening up a national monument to commercial fishing, while weakening bedrock environmental laws that protect people and the environment,” says Steve Mashuda, Earthjustice’s Managing Attorney of its Oceans Program. “We condemn this action, amidst all the other destructive policies this president has pursued in these days, and are looking at every tool we have to support the fight against this.”
“Let’s be clear, this executive order is not about providing immediate relief to the American people and boosting our economy. If President Trump was interested in anything other than expanding his power, there are a number of things he and his Administration could do to help our country combat this deadly epidemic and spur economic growth,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said.
“Once again, President Trump is using the pretense of a deadly pandemic and its ensuing economic calamity to accelerate his Administration’s agenda," he added.