By Sydney Colopy, League of Conservation Voters
The Trump administration is threatening one of the most enjoyable and relaxing times of the year—summer vacation. With high gas prices, rollbacks on clean car standards and clean water safeguards, and the potential loss of public lands protections, the Trump administration is constructing significant roadblocks to a safe, enjoyable, and affordable summer vacation.
As people across the country head on their way for Fourth of July celebrations and vacations, the 47 million people who plan to drive to their destinations will be hit with high prices at the gas pump. This year’s prices are 59 cents higher per gallon than average and are expected to continue rising. Making cars go farther on a gallon of gas is already a sensible initiative—it saves consumers money, reduces pollution, and protects our health—but as gas prices start to rise, it is just a no brainer. And the Obama administration’s 2012 clean car standards mean this no brainer is already underway. These standards are popular among consumers because they improve fuel efficiency and reduce pollution. However, the Trump administration is planning to gut these standards in yet another attempt to undermine public health protections in order to protect polluter profits.
The transportation sector is the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., and any effort to curb emissions should be bolstered, not slashed, for the sake of environmental and human health. Thirteen states have adopted stronger vehicle emission standards, which means manufacturers are already working to meet those higher standards. But the Trump administration is threatening to revoke this Clean Air Act authority, which would be unprecedented.
People planning to boat and swim in lakes, fish in streams, or kayak and raft down rivers this summer also have reason to be concerned as the administration tries relentlessly to rollback clean water safeguards. In 2015, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adopted the Clean Water Rule, which clarifies pollution protections for bodies of water like streams and wetlands that impact water quality downstream. A rollback of this Obama administration rule would threaten the drinking water of one in three people, including almost 2 million miles of streams and about 110 million acres of wetlands, with more pollution. No one should have to worry about dangerous pollutants in the water they swim and fish in, let alone the water their families rely on for drinking, yet the EPA is determined to cut clean water protections and sacrifice public health in order to satisfy industry interests.
While the administration is turning a blind eye to climate change and neglecting public health, Congress is putting the conservation of our great outdoors in jeopardy. For over 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has used offshore drilling fees to conserve land, water, and recreation areas in every state across the country. And as the expiration date for LWCF draws near, America’s exquisite parks and public lands, visited by thousands of vacationers throughout the summer, are under threat of losing protections and funding. LWCF protects bucket list summer vacation destinations, such as the Grand Canyon, along with local ball fields and community parks frequented by families enjoying a summer weekend. If Congress does not permanently reauthorize and fully fund LWCF by September 30, many of America’s most treasured places to visit will not receive the funding necessary to conserve them for future generations to explore.
All people in this country deserve clean air and water, more efficient cars, and outdoor areas to enjoy. By prioritizing polluters over people, this administration puts our health, pocket books, and treasured lands and waters at risk. So we at LCV, along with 30 of our state LCV partners, are doing something about it with initiatives like our Clean Energy for All campaign, which aims to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050. In the absence of federal leadership on climate change, states and local communities are moving forward with clean energy commitments. We are also working with our state partners, fellow conservation groups, and Congressional Champions to hold the administration accountable for abdicating their responsibility to protect our environment and public health.
Cutting emissions in the transportation sector, as well as limiting pollution in our waterways , are vitally important steps in moving closer to pollution-free communities. And ensuring all communities have access to safe, protected, and healthy outdoor spaces is critical too. This should be a priority for our federal government—during the summer and all year round—and we won’t stop defending the rights of every community to a clean and healthy environment.