The damage Trump has inflicted on the social fabric of the country, before and after Charlottesville, has been meticulously documented. What has been less explored is the massive harm he’s doing to our physical environment. And as Paul Krugman writes in his Friday column, he has accomplished this without passing a significant piece of legislation.
The central problem, Krugman believes, is that Trump seems to think he can solve the country’s ills by putting the “right” people in charge. In the case of the EPA, that means nominating a chief administrator who has sued the government body a dozen times.
As Oklahoma attorney general, Scott Pruitt lobbied tirelessly on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. Now he’s moving quickly to “undermine his own agency’s mission,” increasing the likelihood of climate catastrophe and exposing the public to all manner of health hazards.
“Trump won’t make America great again,” Krugman writes, “but Pruitt, who clearly has Trump’s full backing, can do a lot to make it polluted again.”
Most Americans take clean water and air for granted. But without changing the law, Pruitt can “reverse bans” and “cripple enforcement of the rules he doesn’t undo simply by working with Trump to starve his own agency of personnel and funds.”
Frustratingly, these developments are unlikely to be “treated as front-page news.” Krugman continues:
Cumulatively, however, [Pruitt and Trump] will kill or cripple large numbers of Americans — for that is what pollution does, even if the damage is gradual and sometimes invisible.
And while there’s no chance this anti-environmental agenda will be good for job creation, it will “be worth billions to certain campaign donors.”
Krugman ends on a cautionary note. Rather than focusing on stalled legislation, he urges the media to identify the “other parts” of his agenda that “are moving right along”—the demolition of environmental protections in particular.
“Trump will definitely change America,” he writes, “and his legacy will literally be toxic.”
Read the entire column at The New York Times.