by Mia DiFelice
At a rally in Florida last night, former President Donald Trump announced his third bid for the White House.
Given the former president’s track record, we’re just as concerned as you are. Trump’s threats to democracy are grave and well-known. Perhaps less-known are the many ways that Trump attacked our food, water, and climate.
Throughout his four years in office, the former president rolled back regulations and gave handouts to polluting industries and greedy corporations. He gutted the EPA and blocked every effort on climate action, risking climate catastrophe for more and more communities.
Along the way, Food & Water Watch took a stand against every one of those attacks. These three fights show what we’re up against if Trump spends another four years in the White House. But more importantly, they show how we stayed fighting, and will continue fighting, for the planet.
Trump’s Attack on the Clean Water Act
In 1972, lawmakers passed the Clean Water Act to protect our waterways and wetlands from out-of-control pollution. But more than forty years later, the Trump administration proposed a new rule to erase one of the Act’s most important measures.
The Act allows states to block federal permits for infrastructure that would break state laws by significantly impacting waterways within their borders. The states also get broad discretion in how they review such projects.
But the Trump administration proposed to shorten the time that states and tribes could review projects. It also proposed limiting the factors that state agencies could consider in their reviews.
These rules paved the way not only for more polluted water, but also more oil and gas projects. So when the Biden administration directed the EPA to review the changes, Food & Water Watch submitted comments. And this year, the administration proposed a reversal of the Trump-era changes.
Trump’s Slaughterhouse Rollbacks Endangered Workers and Consumers
We know slaughterhouses are far from pleasant, and cutting corners can have dangerous consequences. That’s why, before Trump, federal inspectors looked for and removed fecal matter from hog carcasses.
But Trump’s administration introduced rules allowing slaughterhouse employees to take on this responsibility. We knew this was bad news, and our analysis found that meatpacking plants piloting the new rules had double the violations of those still following the old rules. Those plants were also almost twice as likely to be cited for contamination.
It’s a classic story of letting companies police themselves. These rules let numerous plants get away with releasing carcasses from the line that were contaminated with human pathogens, including Salmonella.
Additionally, the administration proposed rolling back line-speed standards at poultry plants. Though the USDA threw out the rule, it threatened to make poultry plants more dangerous for both workers and consumers.
The new speeds would have made it even harder for inspectors to do their jobs thoroughly, risking more contamination and food-borne illnesses.
What’s more, faster speeds endanger workers on the floor. Speeding up work done with heavy, bladed machinery increases the risk of accidents. It also worsens repetitive stress injuries, already common in the industry, like carpal tunnel syndrome. Already, meatpacking has one of the highest injury rates of any industry in the country.
“Bomb Trains” Roll Through Neighborhoods on Trump’s OK
Before the Trump administration, liquid natural gas (LNG) couldn’t travel by rail — and for good reason. Doing so entails moving huge volumes of explosive chemicals under high temperature and extreme pressure. An accident can have — and has had — catastrophic consequences.
But in 2020, Trump’s administration finalized a rule allowing LNG by rail, sending “bomb trains” through neighborhoods on aging rail lines. The rule also eliminated notice and comment requirements for LNG rail shipments, meaning frontline communities might not even know such dangerous train cars were rolling by.
The rules also allowed special permits for some LNG routes. So even when the Biden administration suspended the rule, companies with special permits carried on transporting LNG by rail. Those special permits include lines shared with passenger cars and lines running dangerously close to residential areas.
Food & Water Watch submitted comments on the rule and blocked new routes. Then, in 2022, we sounded the alarm when we found that half of South Floridians are at risk of evacuation — or worse — in the event of a blast on an LNG route. We also found that people of color and low-income communities are more likely to live in evacuation zones and even more likely to live in the “lethal zones” around routes.
Trump rollbacks like those around LNG transport aren’t only allowing climate-wrecking industries like fracking to continue polluting and profiting — they’re also risking the lives and livelihoods of already-vulnerable communities.
We Know How to Fight Through a Trump Presidency
This year’s midterms proved Trump’s reign as kingmaker may finally be waning. Key endorsed candidates failed to clinch their seat, even in districts that should have been a given. This, along with the strong showing by Democrats in November’s election, shows us that another Trump administration is far from guaranteed.
But if the former president returns to the White House, we’re prepared. We spent four years honing strategies and winning fights already. If Trump comes back in 2024, we’ll keep organizing and demanding bold action from our elected officials. With your help, we will continue the fight for safe food, clean water, and a livable climate — no matter who stands in our way.
We stay fighting, with your support!