Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Trump defends environmental record that critics call disastrous

Saul Loeb  AFP  Getty Images FILE Saul Loeb AFP Getty Images FILE
Patty Aguilar | 09 July, 2019, 16:37

U.S. President Donald Trump praised his administration's record on the environment on Monday as he spoke to a room full of supporters and Cabinet secretaries.

Despite leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, protecting the coal industry, diverting millions of dollars of national park funds, and calling global warming a hoax - among many other sins against nature - President Donald Trump wanted you to know today that he has made America an environmental leader.

Trump is calling the event "remarkable" and praising the "incredible, big, attractive crowds" it drew despite the rain.

In a phone call with reporters Monday, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Mary Neumayr said that Trump chose to schedule the speech after discussing the status of several environmental and energy policies with his advisers.

Denouncing what he called "a relentless war on American energy" under the previous administration of Barack Obama, Trump forcefully rejected "radical plans" in the struggle against climate change which, according to him, "would not make the world cleaner". "And I always say I want crystal clean water and air", Trump said last month in Ireland, adding, "We're setting records, environmentally". "It is one of the reasons suburban voters across the country elected politicians that would challenge the administration on climate change and a whole host of environmental policies". A senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the New York Times there are moderate voters who "just want to know that he's being responsible" on environmental issues - and that is who today's speech was created to reach.

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Leading environmentalists not invited to the White House event were not impressed.

And ahead of the speech, the Sierra Club said the President "has quickly established the worst record on the environment and climate action of any president in the history of the country".

Asked to cite more recent improvements, Wheeler pointed to "double-digit decreases in lead and sulfur dioxide" in the air in the United States during the Trump administration. "We want the cleanest air".

He also repeatedly emphasized the role a strong economy plays in environmental protections. "President Trump has repeatedly and often gleefully taken to Twitter or appeared at rallies, railing against big things like the Paris climate agreement and little ones like energy-efficient light bulbs". "We continue to clean up the water", Wheeler said.

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