Trump’s Sellout of American Heritage

Oct 14, 2017 by


An aerial view of a landscape in the Bristol Bay watershed. Credit Paul Colangelo

The last runs of heavenly wild salmon are trickling in this month, the buttery coho with flesh the color of fall foliage. After that, we’ll have to settle for mostly farmed and frozen fish until next spring — no substitute for the real deal.

We can count on this seasonal miracle, healthy fish returning to their birthplaces and then on to the dinner table, so long as the fragile balance of nature remains intact. But with a president who is going after clean air, clean water and the world’s most valuable wild salmon fishery, the fate of creation and all the myriad wonders within it is at stake.

I use “creation” as an appeal to creationists to look at what your president is doing to Eden, or what’s left of it. I also want to appeal to economic nationalists. For the U.S.A. has the greatest home for sockeye salmon on the planet in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The Trump administration is putting it at risk in order to aid a foreign mining conglomerate.

This American carnage is led by a man whose job is to protect the natural world within our borders, the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt. As you may have heard, he has sealed himself off from the public with a $25,000 phone security system and an 18-member security detail. It took a court order to pry loose some of the details of his meetings. No surprise, he holds daily lap-dog sessions with the companies he is supposed to regulate.

Pruitt is the swamp, the only wetland the Trump administration wants to protect. He serves the oil, chemical and mining interests that propped him up when he was attorney general of Oklahoma. He now runs the oil, chemical and mining protection agency out of Washington, with our money. You would never guess that this toady in a suit works for us.

Look around. The catastrophic wildfires that are sweeping through iconic landscapes in Northern California and carpet-bombing entire neighborhoods are a glimpse into an early future in the West. Hurricanes, rolling in one after the other, are swamping cities. Every month brings a new high temperature record.

Until this year, the American response was in tune with the rest of the world — to try to do something to fix this overheated globe of ours.

In announcing this week that President Trump intends to spite all the other nations and gut President Barack Obama’s signature effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Pruitt framed the move as the end of the “war on coal.” Now comes the war on the planet and public health.

Amid the hourly calamities of a White House that is forced to treat its chief occupant like a toddler, it’s easy to forget that Trump is doing real damage to things that all of us share.

So, that’s politics, right? To the victor go the spoils. He’s simply rolling back onerous regulations, as promised, and sticking it to the global elites on climate change. Well, no.

Your party affiliation will not protect you from the chemicals sprayed on strawberries — shown to cause brain damage to children — which Trump will allow to remain in the food chain. Living in a red state will not keep warming oceans from rising ever higher when the latest 500-year storm hits your region. Being a Trump supporter does not protect your favorite stream from the toxic discharge of a power plant into a public waterway.

All of the above are potential consequences of more than 50 environmental rules that Trump has tried to kill since he took office.

National monuments — not the Confederate kind that Trump wants to preserve, but special places protected in somewhat the same way as national parks — are also in his sights. These are unique landscapes set aside for their cultural, historical or scenic splendor. Trump could shrink 10 of them — another sellout of American heritage.

In Alaska, he is going against the will of the people to target Bristol Bay. Half the world’s wild sockeye come from this magical place, a bounty that supports 14,000 jobs. Alaskans are a cantankerous bunch who can’t agree on much of anything. Yet they voted by an overwhelming margin in 2014 to protect Bristol Bay from a gold and copper mine that could generate 10 billion tons of toxic waste.

And unlike big food producers in the heartland, the Bristol Bay salmon industry is not propped up by subsidies, chemicals or compromised politicians. The fish need only clean water and healthy oceans. That’s why the E.P.A. had earlier concluded that the proposed Pebble mine could have a “catastrophic” impact on the bay.

Trump’s men are rolling over for the gold mine. Just hours after Pruitt met with the mine’s corporate leadership, Trump reversed E.P.A. protection, as CNN reported this week. If you’re surprised that wild salmon would be sacrificed for precious metal, remember that one of Trump’s few passions is for gold-plated bathroom fixtures.

Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.