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Undoing Trump’s Damage: Government Initiatives to Support the Environment Launched in 2021

We Can Make Progress Again

The Trump era brought about many drawbacks for our society. Different groups of people were targeted by our government policies due to race, gender, and immigration status. The environment was often the target of dangerous policies that seemed to be enacted with terrifying frequency. Environmental gains that were made in the past years were rolled back in ways that benefit affluent companies at the environment’s expense. This administration was a huge setback for the U.S. and the world. We lost a lot of ground, and many people lost hope in our system. 

Those lost gains are thankfully returning with Biden’s new policies. He is making a concerted effort to fix what the Trump administration worked to destroy over the last four years. Environmental regulations were an easy target for Trump because many of them came about from executive orders that Obama made during his time in office to bypass a disagreeable Congress. Congress refused to work with him and so he signed executive orders so he could get certain things done. Trump was able to eliminate those acts one by one without much effort. Biden is now picking up the pieces with some policy of his own. It is great to watch environmental protection be prioritized by our government once more. Here are a few of the positive changes that our current administration has done to protect the environment. 

Strengthened Rules on Air Quality

Blue sky.
It’s always great to breathe in fresh, clean air. 

During Trump’s presidency, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was a former coal lobbyist. Trump was the one to appoint him. He fit a recurring pattern during the administration. He headed an agency that he had personal interest in thwarting. Under Trump, the EPA rolled back the Obama era clean car standards. Their new rule, known as the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles rule, relaxed emission standards significantly. Vehicles are the number one source of air pollution in the U.S. His standards were alarmingly lax and brought an increase of issues we’ve already been fighting to eliminate. He rolled back standards to limit pollution from airplanes as well as power plants. He even pulled back from the Paris Agreement, an international treaty meant to reverse climate change. This led to the allowance of more carbon emissions in the air, worsening our atmosphere instead of improving it. 

Biden rejoined the Paris agreement on his first day in office. He is working with car manufacturers to establish a better standard of fuel efficiency for our vehicles. His administration has pledged to speed up the effort to bring forth cleaner forms of energy for public use. Solar and wind energy will be in prominent use when Biden’s administration manages to succeed in this endeavor. These energy sources have proven to be efficient and far less harmful than oil. It contributes to air pollution and the land needs to be affected to retrieve it. Our air quality has the potential to turn around completely with these efforts. 

Protecting Animal Habitats 

Wolf in front of trees.
Animals deserve to have comfortable habitats. 

Trump caused a significant amount of harm towards wild animals while in office. He weakened the Endangered Species Act, an act meant to protect species that are in danger of going extinct. He did this by limiting the definition of “critical habitat.” He allowed agencies to disregard the safety of certain habitats if the costs they are likely to incur will outweigh the benefits of protecting the environment. Companies profit margins were treated as more important than living land and creatures. He also signed a law that prevented people from designating new areas as protected spaces. He chose to limit protected areas and make it easier for companies to violate them for personal benefit. We need to have more protected areas, not less. We can now start moving in that direction despite the four year long setback. 

Biden has announced that he will review Trump’s rollbacks of threatened and endangered species protections. There is a long list for him to address. He already has plans for how he will help endangered species survive. He has plans to enact clear water rules to keep their drinking sources clean. This will keep the animals healthy so they don’t get sick and die from preventable illnesses. He plans to halt fossil fuel development projects in places where animal species thrive. Biden will strengthen many protections for at-risk species. There are many rollbacks for Biden to fix, but once he accomplishes the task, our wildlife will reap the benefits. We all will be better off when our wildlife is.

Preventing Drilling on Certain Lands

A shovel suck into the dirt.
Let’s keep our land safe. 

During his time in office, Trump approved the Keystone Access pipeline. He also approved the Dakota Access Pipeline. These projects were opposed by various groups for over a decade. Environmental activists fought alongside Native Americans for the safety of these lands, but they could not stop the administration's approval of these projects. We had assumed victory when the Obama administration vetoed the pipeline in 2015, but that did not prove to be a solid defense once he left office. After a long and hard-fought battle, it was discouraging to see those efforts be disregarded. Thankfully, that disappointment didn’t last. 

Biden quickly blocked the Keystone Access pipeline. Other similar projects are stalled and likely to be blocked as well. It is a great victory for us to have our government prioritize the environment over the needs of oil companies. Keeping our land intact instead of drilling for oil is a great move that will greatly improve the health of our planet. Biden’s effort to prioritize more sustainable sources of energy will help keep these lands protected. It would be very beneficial for us to move on from energy sources that harm our planet and use energy that does not require drilling into land that is best left untouched. We will make a lot of progress with Biden championing healthier sources of energy. 

Helping to Improve Climate Change

Smoke coming out of power plants.
Let’s improve our air quality. 

Trump had reversed Obama era protections meant to reduce air pollution. He firmly put the interests of businesses over the needs of individual people. He reversed the serious efforts that had been made in previous years to refrain from further damaging the earth’s ozone layer. Our planet needs to be protected from intense damage that will further harm our ecosystem. Our bodies don’t fare very well when saturated with pollutants. Pollutants in the air can cause ill health, including many respiratory and heart conditions. 

Biden has pledged to instruct the federal government to always consider the economic impact of climate change when making new regulations. He wants them to be mindful of the effects they can have on the environment and actively make good choices to benefit it. Climate impacts are costing us billions despite the large profits that a few companies are able to earn from using harmful business practices. Earning money from polluting our air quality only brings about short term benefits for very few people. Improving our air quality benefits us all. Biden is reestablishing the group meant to issue those guidelines so that there is close oversight involved with policies that can impact our air. This is a great step towards making our air breathable. Without these measures being taken fast, we’d be at risk of our planet becoming a much more hostile environment for us. 

Rebuilding Damaged Environmental Agencies

A small plant growing in a light bulb.
New standards mean new beginnings.

The Trump Administration heavily slashed the budget for environmental protection programs. They were firmly on the side of large corporations and helped them damage the environment by repealing previously established laws. Environmental agencies suffered under Trump, and the environment suffered along with them. The EPA is an agency that the Trump administration harmed significantly. They lost almost 1,000 employees during this four year period. Trump chose to allow the environment to be harmed for profit rather than use agencies like the EPA to their full capacity. They were not able to operate in a way that would actually benefit our environment. This has caused us harm that needs to be reversed. 

Biden went right to work on reversing this damage. Biden’s plan asked Congress for $14 billion dollars across almost every industry. He wants to zero out U.S. emissions by 2050. He plans to direct billions of dollars towards environmental goals. These billions would go towards clean energy innovation and research, energy efficiency in homes, and electrifying federal vehicles. He plans to restore the EPA, starting by giving them more federal funding than they have ever received before. This is great news for anyone who realizes just how important it is to make change. This would go a long way towards improving the wrongs that have been done over the past four years. 

Our country was dragged backwards from our environmental progress for four years, but we still have the chance to make progress. Biden has taken a few different steps to improve our environmental outcomes since he’s gotten in office, so we’re back on the path of making the improvements needed for our environment’s health!

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Stacey Fleurime

Stacey Fleurime is a Freelance Writer.
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