Trump Announces 2024 Bid. We Stay Fighting For the Planet.

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Food SystemClimate and EnergyClean Water

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!

Why Trump Wants To Kill The Biggest Environmental Law You’ve Never Heard Of

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Climate and Energy

Following the rapid industrialization and population boom of the early 1900s, the environment stood as a casualty of society’s capitalistic growth. Rivers caught fire, DDT crashed bird populations, and scientists feared devastating harms caused by the escalating concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. These issues were exacerbated by the lack of federal regulation, as states led a “race-to-the-bottom” where environmental protections were slashed to ease the way for industry. Something had to be done to prevent the rapid destruction of natural resources and the planet.

After analyzing the vast web of issues leading to environmental damage, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). In enacting NEPA, Congress recognized “the profound impact of man’s activity on the interrelations of all components of the natural environment… [and] the critical importance of restoring and maintaining environmental quality to the overall welfare and development of man[.]” 

Over the past 50 years of implementation and interpretation in the courts, NEPA has become the foundational cornerstone of U.S. environmental law, and nations worldwide have replicated its model.

NEPA Requires Federal Agencies To Understand Environmental Impacts

Within NEPA, Congress declared “that it is the continuing policy of the federal government… to use all practicable means and measures… to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.” The entire premise of this law is to make sure that the federal government looks before it leaps – forcing it to understand the ramifications of its actions and how those decisions will ripple out over time.

To this end, NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their actions, including direct action by an agency or the permitting of private activity (like when an agency issues a permit for a private company to frack). The primary decision-making agency is tasked with doing an environmental assessment of the project. If it imposes a significant impact, then a more in-depth environmental impacts statement is required. That next step is a collaborative process where meaningful involvement from affected communities and stakeholders is absolutely vital because they typically have the most knowledge of the local conditions and history.

Legal interpretation of NEPA led to the White House Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) being formed to craft regulations on how agencies implement NEPA. These rules have been consistent for more than 40 years, requiring consideration of all direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of any project under review.

But the Trump administration is looking to change this.

Trump Gutting NEPA Aids Polluters And Muzzles The Public

First, Trump’s CEQ is trying to remove requirements to review related and cumulative effects of agency action. This intentionally prevents agencies from considering issues like overall emissions from fossil fuel infrastructure networks or related projects under development within a region. These new amendments to the regulations are tailored to allow industry-favoring regulators to ignore climate change and the foreseeable consequences of their policies and permitting.

The proposed rules also expand “categorical exclusions” to allow far more projects to skirt the review stage, excusing polluting projects from even the most basic review of the environmental impacts they will cause. For example, these exemptions would allow the federal government to issue multi-million dollar loan guarantees to private factory farms — basically subsidizing the largest source of pollution in American waterways.

Even worse, the administration is attempting to restrict public engagement within the NEPA review process: shortening timelines, limiting the scope of comments, and providing bureaucrats great freedom in how they exclude the public from the review process.

To top it all off, in proposing these regulatory changes, CEQ refused to perform an environmental justice review (as required by law) that would look at how these sweeping regulatory changes impact the most vulnerable communities.

Support Us As We Explore Legal Avenues To Save NEPA

This demolition of American environmental law is a feature – not a bug – of the Trump administration’s efforts. It is a deadly purposeful re-envisioning of nearly 50 years of well-understood legal requirements, which will allow industry to steamroll community objection to polluters. These proposed NEPA regulations are blatantly illegal; they certainly rise to the level of being “arbitrary and capricious.” And we will be pursuing every legal avenue to ensure that the administration’s knowing attempts to destroy our planet are rightfully thrown out in court.

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