By Jacob Carter, Union of Concerned Scientists
President Trump recently boasted about his amazing environmental record, which others have shown to be, in fact, not great. What records has President Trump achieved? I did some research to find out. Here is a list of records that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and others have found using, you know, actual real data.
- Civil enforcement cases at the EPA during President Trump’s first two years of holding office declined to 1,838, the lowest number since 1982.
- Civil penalties for pollution violations declined to $69 million in FY 2018—the lowest they have been since 1987 after adjusting for inflation.
- In its first two years, the Trump administration prepared 237 environmental impact statements. That is the fewest conducted dating back to the George H.W. Bush administration, which conducted 311 reviews in its first two years.
- The size of Bears Ears National Monument was reduced by 85%—a loss of 1.1 million acres—and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was cut by half. The process by which the decision to reduce the protected lands of Bears Ears was compromised from the start. Senior officials at the Department of Interior had a meeting with a uranium firm likely to discuss shrinking Bears Ears before a formal review was conducted.
- OSHA now has the lowest number of safety and health inspectors in its 48-year history. The drop in number is not a budget issue, as OSHA’s budget has stayed the same and then increased under the Trump administration. Rather, the Trump administration has failed to fill vacancies as inspectors have left the agency.
- The Trump administration has attacked science morethan the prior two presidential administrations, according to our measures. Other observers have also documented the extent of these attacks.
- President Trump has failed to appoint 35 scientific leadership positions at his 2.5 year mark, whereas both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations had filled these positions before this time in their presidencies.
- In his first 14 months on the job, President Trump had more Cabinet turnover than 16 of his predecessors had in their first two years.
- Comparisons among surveys conducted by UCS dating back to 2005 show that morale is ranked by more scientific experts as extremely poor or poor under the Trump administration at the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, and at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
- During the first 18 months of the Trump administration, 1,600 workers left the EPA, but the administration only hired an additional 400 staff. EPA’s budget has remained stable, yet an uptick in the agency’s workforce has yet to be seen.
- In 2018, the White House held a record low 60 briefings. These briefings also have been shorter and more contentious than those held by past administrations.
- President Trump has consistently asked for deep cuts to science funding. Chief among the exorbitant cuts includes an unprecedented 31% drop in the EPA’s funding proposed for the 2020 fiscal year.
Another thing that is very real about these records: their resultant harms to people. By stripping away scientists and their work from decision making processes, we end up with ineffectual policies that do not protect public health or our environment. In chipping away at transparency, the public is less informed about the government’s work and how they are, or are not, working to safeguard people. And through protecting the interests of fossil fuel companies instead of tribal groups, the cultural heritage of our country is under siege. Unfortunately, these are the real records, and they don’t paint as pretty a picture as the one our president does.