July 8, 2019, Updated: July 9, 2019
On July 8 President Donald Trump commended environmental progress in the United States. Days before, the release of an annual air quality report that showed the air has become 1% cleaner since 2018 and a whopping 74% cleaner since the early 1970s.
Environmental officials pointed to progress made on reducing carbon dioxide and methane emissions, cleaning up hazardous waste sites, and removing plastic debris from the world’s oceans.
“Among the heritage, we must preserve is our country’s incredible natural splendor. That is the shared obligation that brings us together today,” Trump said.
“From day one, my administration has made it a top priority to ensure that America has among the very cleanest air and cleanest water on the planet. We want the cleanest air. We want crystal clean water. And that’s what we’re doing, and that’s what we’re working on so hard.”
Trump campaigned on a promise to quit the Paris climate accord and withdrew from the pact a few months after taking office. The President described the accord as “unfair, ineffective, and very very expensive.”
Mary Neumayr, chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters on July 8 that Trump views a healthy economy as a prerequisite for a clean climate.
The resources and advantages derived from a powerful economy can be used to improve the environment, Neumayr said.
“The President recognizes that a strong economy is critical for technology and innovation, for modern resilient infrastructure, and for environmental protection,” Neumayr said.
Trump’s critics, aided by establishment media, have attacked the President’s approach, accusing him of sacrificing the climate for profits.
During the 1970s, only 42% of drinking water met quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Today, 92% of drinking water meets the standard. All six criteria used to measure air pollution have improved over the decades and continue to improve.
The United States is one of the few industrialized nations to meet the environmental goals set out in the Paris Accord even after having quit it.
“Regardless of whether we’re in the Paris Climate Accord or not, we continue to make progress on that front,” said Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the EPA.
The President contrasted his approach with the socialist Green New Deal policy proposal that is backed by more than 100 House Democrats, which, according to one estimate, would cost U.S. taxpayers $93 trillion over the course of a decade. The projected total spending for the next 10 years is roughly $60 trillion.
“I will not stand for it. We will defend the environment but we will also defend American sovereignty, American prosperity, and we will defend American jobs, President Trump said.”
Among other achievements, Trump lauded the progress made by the EPA’s Superfund program to clean up hazardous waste sites.
In 2018, the EPA was able to remove 22 Superfund sites from the list of national priorities, the most since 2005.
The administration has also broadened the scope of the Brownfields program, with 40 percent of communities receiving grants for the first time. The Brownfields program directs taxpayer funds to communities for the cleanup of contaminated sites.
Bruce Roebuck, the owner of a bait and tackle business in Port St. Lucie, Florida, speaks at President Donald Trump’s environment initiatives event in the East Room of the White House in Washington on July 8, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson.
Bruce Roebuck, the owner of a local bait shop in Florida, took to the podium beside Trump to talk about the impact of the administration’s work on battling toxic algae in Lake Okeechobee.
Lake Okeechobee is the aquatic lifeblood of South Florida.
Roebuck has been forced to close his stores several days a week because people were afraid to touch the algae-infested water.
“Your completion of this Herbert Hoover Dike is going to make a tremendous difference,” Roebuck said, describing how the dike will help safely store more water in the lake and prevent fertilizer, contaminants, and algae from going downstream.