President Trump’s Retreat on the Environment Is Affecting Communities Across America – The New York Times
‘This is our reality now.’
In just two years, President Trump has unleashed a regulatory rollback, lobbied for and cheered on by industry, with little parallel in the past half-century. Mr. Trump enthusiastically promotes the changes as creating jobs, freeing business from the shackles of government and helping the economy grow.
The trade-offs, while often out of public view, are real — frighteningly so, for some people — imperiling progress in
cleaning up the air we breathe and the water we drink, and in some cases upending the very relationship with the environment around us.
Since Mr. Trump took office, his approach on the environment has been to neutralize the most rigorous Obama-era restrictions, nearly 80 of which have been blocked, delayed or targeted for repeal, according to an analysis of data by The New York Times.
With this running start, Mr. Trump is already on track to leave an indelible mark on the American landscape, even with a decline in some major pollutants from the ever-shrinking coal industry. While Washington has been consumed by scandals surrounding the president’s top officials on environmental policy — both the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior secretary have been driven from his cabinet — Mr. Trump’s vision is taking root in places as diverse as rural California, urban Texas, West Virginian coal country and North Dakota’s energy corridor.
While the Obama administration sought to tackle pollution problems in all four states and nationally, Mr. Trump’s regulatory ambitions extend beyond Republican distaste for what they considered unilateral overreach by his Democratic predecessor; pursuing them in full force, Mr. Trump would shift the debate about the environment sharply in the direction of industry interests, further unraveling what had been, before the Obama administration, a loose bipartisan consensus dating in part to the Nixon administration.
In the words of Walter DeVille, who lives on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, “This is our reality now.”
Steve Eder, a reporter who shared in the Pulitzer Prize this year, has worked at The Times since 2012. He writes about the federal government.
John Branch, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, has been at The Times since 2005. He is based in California.
Gabriella Demczuk is a photographer and regular contributor to The Times, covering Washington politics and national policy.