Every presidency has its agenda, and that agenda will never gel with the viewpoints of every single American to be sure; as they say, there’s no pleasing everybody, and that has never been more true than when it comes to the environment. President-Elect Donald Trump has been outspoken about a great many things and has managed to make quite the impact upon America – and, indeed, the world – without even having been sworn into office yet. And when he does finally take that big seat in the Oval Office after his inauguration on January 20, 2017, he stands to make an even bigger impact…perhaps the biggest of any American President yet.
One of the biggest areas he can make that impact is upon the environment, and many green activists are already airing their concerns and hoping Trump will hear their collective voices. Among the hot topics he will have to face once in office are water security, fracking and climate change, among others.
President Barack Obama often found himself at odds with environmentalists and Native Americans over the Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipelines over the potential harm they pose to the land they are slated to run through; while Obama has blocked the Keystone project, Trump has declared his support for the pipeline and has stated that he will approve it once in office. In addition, Trump has also vowed to resolve the issues plaguing the Dakota Access pipeline, as well as renew and open up development into energy sources such as oil, gas and coal.
Among other high-profile issues that Trump will have to face is that of fracking – otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing – which consists of creating fractures in shale formations by drilling into the ground and injecting a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, sand and water into the well to create fissures in rock formations; this allows natural gas trapped inside to be released, extracted, and processed. Environmental site YellowPagesGoesGreen.org has an excellent series on the practice entitled “Fracking Our Way into Oblivion, One Ecological Disaster at a Time,” and the most recent example that’s making the rounds in the news is a federal judge delaying President Obama’s new regulation restricting fracking on public lands for two months, which would make President-elect Donald Trump responsible for its implementation, or lack thereof.
Trump has come out in support of fracking, but has run against the typical Republican grain by stating that towns and states should be allowed to ban the drilling practice if they so choose, a position which surprisingly manages to throw a bone to environmentalists; Republicans and energy industry members typically maintain that fracking is safe and should be permitted nationwide, but Trump has proven never to be pigeonholed into any one point of view, much to the dismay of both the GOP and Democrats alike.
Climate change is another big deal with the green crowd; Trump has often taken a controversial stance on it, most famously Tweeting once that he considered it a hoax created by the Chinese; however, he has recently shown a more nuanced viewpoint, one that is more open-minded than environmentalists would first suspect. According to The Guardian, after previously declaring that he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord – an agreement signed by 196 nations that aims to combat climate change – Trump later appeared to reverse himself on both the accord and the potential of climate change and mankind’s role in bringing it about, saying, “I’m looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it. I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much.”
Despite his at-times harsh sensibilities, Donald Trump has shown himself to be a friend of the environment on more than one occasion; in 2006, when launching a project to construct a golf course in northeast Scotland’s Grampian Region, Trump surprised many by not only acknowledging the concerns of environmentalists, but actually working with them to preserve the local habitat. Trump cited not only sensitivity to the Grampian’s native ecosystem – home to numerous native species such as badgers and otters – but also his own Scottish heritage as well.
“I knew this was the right place for my golf course. As soon as my proposed development was announced in 2006, environmentalists were immediately on guard,” Trump was quoted as saying. “There were a lot of issues to be dealt with, from wildlife protection plans to the economic value to locals. People expected a duel, which I realized, so instead I offered a partnership approach. We worked with the Scottish National Heritage, and it became clear to them that I am environmentally sensitive. I was also inclined to be sympathetic to the rich history of the area due to my own heritage. I also hired the leading expert on geomorphology, for extensive research on the 25 acres of sand dunes on this land.”
So, do environmentalists have something to fret about when Donald Trump takes office later this month, or will they be pleasantly surprised and find an unlikely ally in their fight to save the planet? Only time will tell.