by Doug Domenech
During his first two days “unifying” the nation, President Joseph R. Biden delivered for the most radical environmental interests of the Democrat coalition that nominated and elected him. After all, that is what he promised to do. Killing the Keystone Pipeline and rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement is just the start of his “unifying” environmental agenda.
Over the last month, the White House and federal agencies go through the same ritual of preparing accomplishment reports. And they should. My office prepared one. The secretary’s office prepared one. After all, we are proud of delivering for the American people.
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which is part of the Executive Office of the President, has produced “The Trump Administration’s Environmental Accomplishments.” Here are a few of the highlights you might not know about, especially since the Biden administration immediately removed this government report from the White House website.
President Trump Signed Historic Conservation Legislation
- R. 1957, the “Great American Outdoors Act,” the largest public lands investment in American history.
- 47, the “Dingell Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act,” the largest public lands bill in nearly a decade, designates 1.3 million new acres of wilderness; supported land and water conservation; established a program to better respond to wildfires; and expanded access for recreational hunting and fishing on Federal lands.
- Through the Interior Department (DOI), 49 trails spanning 1,645 miles were added to the National Recreational Trails System while hunting and fishing opportunities were expanded across more than 2.3 million acres at 138 national wildlife refuges and nine national fish hatcheries.
Improved Forest Management
- R. 2, the “Agriculture Improvement Act,” includes provisions to expedite forest management to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires.
- Executive Order 13855, “Promoting Active Management of America’s Forests, Rangelands, and Other Federal Lands to Improve Conditions and Reduce Wildfire Risk,” improves wildland fire management and protect habitats and communities.
- DOI reduced wildfire risk across 5.4 million acres of Interior-managed land.
- S. Department of Agriculture improved forest conditions and reduced wildfire risk on over 2.65 million acres in 2020 alone.
Protected Endangered Species
- More endangered and threatened species have been recovered than any previous administration’s first term.
- DOI and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued revisions to the Endangered Species Act regulations to modernize and update the regulations.
Modified National Monuments to Expand Public Use
- Designated Camp Nelson, a key emancipation site and a refugee camp for African American soldiers and their families during the Civil War, as a National Monument.
- Designated the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Jackson, Mississippi, as the 423rd unit of the National Park System.
- Modified national monuments in Utah to allow for increased recreational access and other uses.
- Designed the first national marine sanctuary in nearly two decades, Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary in Maryland, protecting the remains of 118 World War I-era wooden steamships.
- NOAA also took action to expand the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, to designate a portion of eastern Lake Ontario in New York as a national marine sanctuary, and restore and expand the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Strengthened Trade Agreements and International Conservation Initiatives
- Established the Interagency Environment Committee to coordinate U.S. efforts to monitor and enforce environmental obligations.
- Joined the “One Trillion Trees” Initiative and established the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council.
- Signed S. 1023, the “Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2018,” into law, advancing conservation efforts in developing countries, and expand these efforts to coral reef systems.
Improved Air Quality
- Americans are breathing the cleanest air in our nation’s recorded history.
- Combined emissions of criteria and precursor pollutants dropped 7 percent.
- The number of days listed as unhealthy for sensitive groups in the Air Quality Index dropped 34 percent.
- Issued a presidential memorandum to promoting greater efficiency and cost-effective implementation of the NAAQS program.
- Directed EPA to improve the processing time for State Implementation Plans and converting Federal Implementation Plans into SIPs.
- EPA approved more than 1,200 SIPS, both new and backlogged; converted at least 30 FIPs to SIPs.
- Maintained the United States as the global leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions declined by an estimated 2.6 percent — the largest absolute decline in such emissions of any country in the world. The Energy Information Administration projects such emissions will decline by an additional 11 percent while U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions will remain below 2019 levels through 2050.
- Directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review the Clean Power Plan, which EPA finalized as the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, preserving states’ rights while promoting energy independence, economic growth, and job creation. When fully implemented, U.S. power sector CO2 emissions will fall by as much as 35 percent below 2005 levels.
Improved Water Quality and Reliability
- Signed S. 3021, “America’s Water Infrastructure Act,” and H.R. 7279, the “Water Infrastructure Improvement Act,” to support water infrastructure development.
- Facilitated the investment of more than $38 billion in clean water infrastructure, supporting 7,000 projects and helping create 21,000 jobs across the country.
- Issued E.O. 13956, “Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure,” formally establishing an interagency Water Subcabinet to streamline the federal approach to managing water resources and upgrading the nation’s water infrastructure, safeguard public health, and create jobs.
Modernized Environmental Reviews and Permitting
- Updated the National Environmental Policy Act Regulations, promoting infrastructure development, prioritizing the streamlining of environmental reviews and permitting processes.
- Directed CEQ to review its 1978 regulations for implementing NEPA regulations and announced the final rule comprehensively updating the regulations issued for the first time in more than 40 years.
- Established a One Federal Decision Policy directing agencies to work efficiently and effectively to complete environmental reviews, reducing the average time for agencies to complete an environmental impact statement from 4.5 years, and for federal highways more than 7 years, to an average completion time of 21.5 months from issuance of a Notice of Intent to issuance of the Record of Decision.