While we were all home enjoying a much-deserved and much-needed break, President Trump was busy dismantling or reversing key rules and regulations that make us and our country safer. While there are too many examples to go into great detail, here’s a roundup of a few of the most dangerous and long-lasting ones.
In a year filled with hundreds of giveaways to the fossil fuel industry and corporate polluters, Trump’s year-end gifts to them included undoing fracking safeguards on public and tribal lands, weakening offshore oil drilling rules, and renewing mining leases for billionaire tycoons. On the final Friday of the year, the Department of the Interior rescinded standards that would have required the oil and gas industry to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluids. These rescinded regulations also tightening standards for well construction and wastewater. That same day, oil companies got a few gifts in the form of rollbacks to regulations instated in response to a bipartisan commission’s recommendations to help prevent another Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In addition to these rollbacks, the Interior Department renewed copper and nickel mining leases in one of the most pristine places in America: the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area. The renewal of these leases are clear giveaways to Chilean mining billionaire Andrónico Luksic and opens up the Boundary Waters to one of the most toxic industries in the country. It just so happens that this billionaire is also Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s landlord. Whether you’ve been to the Boundary Waters or not, you can voice your support for keeping wilderness areas out of the hands of mining companies by taking action here.
Finally, ProPublica reported that the Justice Department is pushing for a new question in the upcoming 2020 census that asks about citizenship status. Given the recent uptick in arrests by ICE, immigrants justifiably will have much to fear from completing the census if this question is included, leaving the view of the population’s distribution incomplete. This could have far-flung effects ranging from how congressional seats are distributed to where federal funding is spent.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#DreamActNow. Since the Trump administration ended DACA in September 2017, over 14,000 young people have lost crucial protections. The majority of Americans support a clean Dream Act to give Dreamers a chance to fulfill their dreams in the U.S. It’s up to Congress to take action — and here’s what you can do to encourage them to pass the Dream Act. Call key members of Congress today using DreamActToolkit.org. Remember: Another delay by Congress is another vote to fund deportations.
Unhinged. This morning, the President of the United States openly expressed his support of the “deep state” conspiracy theory. This is the fringe idea, originating in Turkey, that a group of bureaucrats are conspiring to manipulate or control government policy. Some of the earliest and most ardent supporters of the deep state theory include Breitbart, Steve Bannon, and Alex Jones. Trump has previously expressed opinions related to this conspiracy theory, such as the idea that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in order to spy on him. But this is the first time he has openly used the words “deep state” in one of his own tweets. It is the natural successor to his “fake news” claims in his crusade to delegitimize the media and dismiss genuine concerns about his leadership.
Unrest in Iran. Protests began in Iran on Thursday evening largely in reaction to the weak economy, government corruption, and rising costs of fuel and food. The clashes continued into this week but have expanded to include open disobedience of Iran’s Islamic leadership. At least 20 people across the country are dead and over 450 people have been arrested in Tehran, but the protests, the largest since 2009, show no signs of stopping. Iran’s supreme leader attributed the protests to “enemies of Iran,” and the Iranian government has blocked access to social networks. As the Center for American Progress argued in 2016, Iran and other societies across the region remain “on the front lines of the worldwide struggle for human dignity and universal rights.” Unfortunately, President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his indifference toward these basic rights and freedoms in the Middle East and around the world – making his public statements in support of the Iranian people ring hollow.
The Weather Outside is Frightful. Unless you haven’t left your house during the holiday season or are lucky enough to live in California, you’ve probably noticed that it is extremely cold in the eastern half of the United States. Trump noticed this last week and used it as an opportunity to cast doubts on the existence of climate change. But just because thermometers are stuck in the single digits or below doesn’t disprove climate change. In fact, the expert consensus is that climate change can also lead to extremely cold weather, too. Climate change is all about the extremes — and those extremes are popping up more frequently. The bottom line: climate change is real, and it’s already costing the U.S. billions of dollars. It would be wise of the President to believe scientists and start taking action to combat the very real threat of climate change.
Equality. Iceland has taken a massive step to close the country’s gender pay gap. As of yesterday, it is now illegal for employers to pay women less than men. Iceland also has the most gender equity of any country, according to the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report (the United States ranks 49th). This should come as no shock to those who are familiar with Iceland’s government – women make up nearly 50% of the country’s parliament, compared to a paltry 19% of the United States Congress. See here for more ideas for international approaches to close the wage gap.
Time’s Up on Sexual Harassment. On Monday, 300 female actors, directors, writers, and other Hollywood women launched the Time’s Up initiative with a powerful open letter. The initiative is aimed at fighting pervasive, systemic sexual harassment and gender inequality across industries. It is “a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere.” The campaign has already raised over $13 million in donations for a legal defense fund to “help less privileged women…protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it.” This new movement is just the latest example of women standing up and speaking out in the aftermath of the slew of sexual harassment and assault allegations in late 2017.