WASHINGTON -- In his second State of the Union address, President Donald Trump touched on a few topics, such as infrastructure, that are crucial to our environment and the future of our planet. Noticeably absent from the president’s speech, however, were specific proposals about how we’re going to make our air and water cleaner, or how we’re going to reduce global warming emissions and transition to clean, renewable energy, which are crucial measures required to mitigate climate change.
The following Environment America experts responded to some of the issues touched on in the president’s speech.
Investing in clean water was missing from President Trump’s renewed call for infrastructure, although it is sorely needed. Across the country, some states and communities are making progress on issues such as sewage overflows and lead contamination. However, without federal leadership and resources dedicated to the problem, the progress will be slow and inconsistent, leaving beaches polluted and drinking water tainted.
“The president is right to mention the need to improve our infrastructure, but the reality is, in many communities and even our kids' schools, our water is at risk -- especially from old lead pipes and fixtures that need replacing,” said John Rumpler, clean water campaign director for Environment America. “While states and communities are making admirable progress at the local level, they will need robust federal support to help get the lead out.”
In his speech meant to highlight bipartisanship and “outline a policy agenda that both parties can rally behind,” President Trump missed an opportunity to mention land conservation. Funding for LWCF, America’s most successful conservation program, expired last September. Environment America and its state affiliates Environment Colorado and PennEnvironment have spent the ensuing months rallying public support and lobbying elected officials from both parties to reauthorize the fund.
“Americans of all political stripes can unite behind maintaining America the Beautiful and protecting our public lands,” said Steve Blackledge, conservation campaign director for Environment America. “While we are disappointed that the president didn’t throw his support behind that, we’re encouraged by today’s vote in the Senate on the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
President Trump bragged about “unleashing a revolution in American energy,” stating that the United States is now the top producer of oil and gas. Over the last two years, the Trump administration has attempted to prop up outdated, unnecessary and polluting energy sources, such as coal, gas, oil and nukes, that undercut pollution-free options, like solar and wind power and energy efficiency.
The inaction at the federal level stands in stark contrast to the encouraging progress we’re seeing in the states. Environment America just launched a campaign calling on nine states to make commitments to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.
“We know that with the current administration and Congress, we’re not going to make a lot of progress transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy at the federal level,” said Rob Sargent, clean energy campaign director for Environment America. “That’s why we’re focusing our attention on the states, where we have incredible potential to get a lot done.”
President Trump didn’t mention global warming in his speech tonight, even though we know it’s one of the most serious issues facing our country and the world.
“As federal rollbacks of our best climate policies continue, we are looking to the states for leadership,” said Andrea McGimsey, global warming solutions senior director for Environment America. “From Maine to Michigan to New Mexico, governors from both parties are stepping up and making strong commitments to cut carbon pollution.”
Environment America released a report last month outlining the 12 actions governors can take with the stroke of a pen to address global warming.