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‘It’s not our plastic’: Fossil fuels? Plastic? Trump says more is better

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President Donald Trump has seen the future and it is oil. And plastic.

Where most environmental scientists and most US allies fear that overuse of fossil fuels is driving the planet into crisis, the US president spies only opportunity.

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In a speech on Tuesday to hundreds of workers building a new Shell petrochemical factory near Pittsburgh, Trump did not bother paying even lip service to environmental concerns. He just wanted to make clear that America is winning.

“We’re the number one energy producer and I’m so proud of that,” he said.

Already, the United States has won “independence” from the former Middle Eastern guardians of the oil spigots, Trump said.

Next up? “Dominance.”

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Trump said that his priority on entering office had been to halt “the war on energy.”

Ending “the far left’s energy nightmare” is at the core of his presidency, he said.

The crowd, comprised mostly of men in high-visibility safety vests and work boots, cheered.

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– Fantastic plastic –

The Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex will make manufacturing-grade plastic out of liquid natural gas extracted through fracking from the Marcellus Shale deposit.

AFP / Nicholas Kamm President Donald Trump tours a Shell petrochemical factory with Shell Oil company President Gretchen Watkins, saying that plastics pollution is not the fault of the US

The facility, a huge web of pipes and half-constructed buildings, is a symbol of Trump’s aggressive pro-fossil fuel agenda — and a powerful statement to his working-class voters that he meant business when he promised to restore the US manufacturing base.

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Pennsylvania is a particularly important target: the state will be one of the vital pieces in the 2020 presidential election puzzle and Trump is struggling.

But plastic?

The material, once celebrated as a near-miraculous byproduct of hydrocarbons, is increasingly seen as a scourge, clogging up rivers, circulating forever in the seas, invading the food chain, and showing up everywhere from the deepest ocean to the seemingly pristine Arctic.

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All that, Trump says, is someone else’s fault.

“It’s not our plastic. It’s plastics that’s floating over in the ocean,” Trump told reporters on the way to the Shell plant.

“Plastics are fine, but you have to know what to do with them. But other countries are not taking care of their plastic use and they haven’t for a long time.”

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– Breaking it up –

Trump’s focus on old-school heavy manufacturing and fossil fuel energy production goes far beyond just visiting the occasional new factory.

He has sought to rewrite strict environmental protection rules that he referred to on Tuesday as “horror stories.”

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AFP / Nicholas KammPresident Donald Trump is tearing up regulations meant to slow down global warming, arguing that the US economy needs fossil fuel development

Trump gleefully told the crowd that his Environmental Protection Agency chief, Andrew Wheeler, “knows how to break it up.”

Breaking it up means the Trump administration’s dismantling of regulations put in place by his predecessor Barack Obama, including the Clean Power Plan, which sought reduced greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

As he mentioned in his speech, Trump has also pushed to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a remote and beautiful area of Alaska, to oil drilling.

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One of his first acts as president was on an even bigger scale: pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to unite the planet in a joint push to reduce carbon emissions.

Without US participation, the massively ambitious plan lacks both the world’s biggest economy and most active leader.

But Trump told workers that the restrictions imposed in the agreement would have “taken away our wealth.”

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“They didn’t want you to drill. They didn’t want you to frack. They didn’t want you to do steel,” he said. “It wasn’t for us. It was good for others.”

– Tilting at windmills –

Democrats lining up to take on Trump in 2020 have pushed back vigorously on environmental issues.

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Trump knows that many Americans are worried that idealistic environmental campaigners will cost them their factories, their beloved big cars and cheap air travel.

He scoffs at the Democrats’s “Green New Deal” project calling for radical transformation of infrastructure, agriculture and transport to reduce global warming, while also somehow ending income inequality.

But the president can sound no less radical in his opposition to renewables, especially when it comes to his pet hate: windmills.

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Wind turbines are described by his own Department of Energy as providing “clean power from an abundant renewable resource.”

But Trump frequently castigates windmills in vehement, factually dubious terms.

On Tuesday, it was no different.

Windmills “destroy everybody’s property values” and “kill all the birds,” he claimed.

He painted a picture of a couple at home losing power during their favorite TV show because the turbines are no longer rotating.

“Darling, I want to watch Donald Trump on television tonight, but the wind stopped blowing and I can’t watch.”

That the scenario was unlikely didn’t matter, because the crowd of builders laughed and Trump had made his point.

Then winding up the story on wind, he ended with the mantra he hopes will power him to reelection next year: “No, we love natural gas.”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump aides desperately try to downplay ‘order’ to US companies to leave China

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Donald Trump's top aides on Sunday downplayed the idea of US companies being forced to abandon China any time soon, as an edict from the president ordering businesses to start looking for alternatives has been met with skepticism.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economics advisor Larry Kudlow took to the airwaves from France, where Trump is participating in the G7 summit, to smooth out tensions in the business community prompted by Trump's Friday tweet.

Trump said he has "no plan now" to bring US companies in line, and his aides quickly reinforced the message.

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Trump sparks confusion at G7 before doubling down on China tariffs

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President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his hard line against China after sowing confusion with statements that he might be willing to soften a trade war G7 partners fear threatens the world economy.

At the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Trump announced a major trade deal with Japan and promised more of the same with Britain, once Brexit is done.

But the positives were overshadowed by a mix-up over his apparent expression of regret for the latest escalation in the US-China dispute.

"I have second thoughts about everything," he conceded to reporters when asked if he regretted his decision on Friday to ramp up tariffs on all Chinese imports, worth some $550 billion, in retaliation for Beijing's earlier hike of levies on US goods.

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Persecuted Christians eye long-sought freedom in Sudan

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Sudan's Christians suffered decades of persecution under the regime of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir. Now they hope his downfall will give the religious freedom they have long prayed for.

Deep within the maze of dusty alleys that honeycomb Omdurman, Khartoum's sprawling twin city, Yousef Zamgila's church is not visible from the street.

It is hidden in the courtyard of a friend's home and consists of a few iron benches, a pulpit and crosses hastily painted on pillars holding a corrugated roof.

"The previous centre got destroyed because we didn't have the right papers. They always refused... So we use the land of our neighbours," says the Lutheran reverend.

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