Tag Archives: Executive Orders

Time to Fight Back With Everything We Have…

Much of the damage being done by the Trump Administration can be contained (thanks to the Administration’s rather awe-inspiring incompetence), or eventually repaired (when the GOP’s radical fever breaks). People will have been unnecessarily hurt in the meantime, true, but most of the harms can (and probably will) be addressed when (we can hope) cooler heads prevail.

There are only two exceptions to that comforting thought: war and environmental degradation.

If Trump becomes desperate to divert attention from his governing failures and falling poll numbers, the chances of his starting a war are not negligible. And his assault on the already inadequate measures meant to protect the planet from further environmental degradation–if at all effective–will delay efforts to mitigate climate change and result in a loss of time that we don’t have.

We have to hope that the Generals Trump so disdains can prevent him from starting a war; but Trump has already begun his environmental assault with a vengeance. As Politico reports,

In just 40 days, Trump has made it easier for coal miners to dump their waste into West Virginia streams, ordered the repeal of Clean Water Act protections for vast stretches of wetlands, proposed massive job cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency and prepared to begin revoking the Obama administration’s most ambitious climate change regulations.

Trump is also expected to overturn Barack Obama’s moratorium on new federal coal leases, and is considering automakers’ pleas for relief from a scheduled tightening of vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. Obama’s pledge to send billions of dollars to United Nations climate programs is also likely on the chopping block. And Trump hasn’t ruled out withdrawing the United States from the 200-nation Paris climate agreement, a step that could undercut the international effort to confront global warming.

The Politico article details a number of other actions Trump plans to take–including actions to roll back regulations that protect the nation’s air and water quality. He has already signed off on congressional repeals of some Obama-era regulations, including  Interior Department regulations that protect rivers and streams from coal mining pollution.

And this week, he ordered EPA to begin rewriting the Obama administration’s sweeping “Waters of the U.S.” rule, a move that green groups say could leave 60 percent of U.S. stream miles and 20 million acres of wetlands unprotected from development or pollution.

What makes this assault so senseless is that even people who stubbornly refuse to believe that climate change is real should want clean water and breathable air.

The only saving grace of this wholesale assault on science and common sense is that most of these orders won’t take instant effect. As the Politico article notes, it could take years for the EPA to undo the regulations, and the administration will face fierce legal challenges from environmental groups.

In the meantime…

It’s time for every lawyer who can spell “environment” to challenge the Administration’s actions. Executive Orders cannot unilaterally overrule laws that have been duly enacted. I don’t know enough about the processes of regulatory adoption to know whether such orders can revoke them without invoking substantive procedures, but it seems unlikely that rules adopted after lengthy hearings and expert testimony can be undone with the stroke of a denialist’s pen.

Of course, the President and the head of the EPA can simply decline to enforce existing laws and regulations, but that would seem to put businesses subject to the regulations in a very uncomfortable spot; they have a legal obligation to comply with existing rules, and there are probably non-EPA organizations and individuals who would have standing to sue enterprises that made a calculated decision to violate existing law.

In addition to “lawyering up,” every one of us who cares about the environment–or just wants clean air and water and a government that respects science and the rule of law–should contribute as generously as possible to environmental organizations (preferably those having a legal team).

And last but most certainly not least, every one of us has to begin now to organize for the 2018 elections. Find people to run against Trump-supporting incumbents–either rational Republicans to primary them from the left, Democrats to oppose them in the general election, or both. Register any unregistered person we can find, and make sure that person has identification sufficient to satisfy the relevant Voter ID laws. Get anyone who didn’t vote last November to the polls.

We need to change this feckless Congress as soon as humanly possible, because some kinds of damage can’t be fixed.


How Long Can This Last?

Sentient Americans of all political persuasions knew that Donald Trump was unfit to occupy the Oval Office. We knew he was unstable. But even those of us who were terrified by his election have been astonished by the speed with which he is harming critical American interests and plunging the country–and world– into chaos.

Trump’s most recent Executive Order, banning refugees, is as astonishing as it is inhumane. As the Huffington Post reported,

Trump approved the refugee ban amid the biggest refugee crisis in history and on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which honors the millions of people killed during World War II, many of whom tried to flee to the U.S. but were turned away.

It’s not the blanket ban on Muslims that Trump advocated for during his campaign, and it does not single out any country by name other than Syria for its refugees.

But Trump did say earlier in the day that he would prioritize helping Syrian Christians. He also mentioned “radical Islamic terrorists” while signing it. And in the text, it carves out an exception for admitting refugees who are religious minorities even while nearly all others will be barred for 120 days.

The order–which exempts countries where Trump does business or has hotels (business uber alles, evidently)–has caused chaos at airports around the world. It has kept students from returning to their universities, scientists from professional meetings. It applies even to longtime holders of green cards–people who have lived and worked legally in the U.S. for years.

It affects tens of thousands of people: not just refugees already “extremely” vetted and on their way to the U.S., but foreign nationals, immigrants and tourists from the designated countries and Americans whose families will now be unable to visit. It also affects thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives helping this country during the Iraq War.

Like all of Trump’s actions in the days since assuming office, it was hasty, ill-considered, and based on “alternate facts.” As USA today noted,

While Trump has claimed that most Syrian refugees coming to the U.S are single, military-age men, the State Department said those numbers didn’t add up. As of Nov. 2015, 77% of Syrian refugees who entered the U.S. were women and children. Only 23% were adult men, and only 2% were “single men unattached to families.”

As Senator Chris Murphy pointed out, not only does this profoundly unAmerican order not make us safer, “Trump has now handed ISIS a path to rebirth. They can and will use his announcement today as confirmation that America is at war with Muslims, especially those Muslims living in desperate circumstances.”

Even Dick Cheney says this order “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”

It has been a little over a week since this delusional and dangerously ignorant man has been President. In that time, he has poisoned relations with Mexico, a neighbor and important trading partner; continued his inexplicable, fawning relationship with Vladimir Putin; and pulled the U.S. out of the TPP, rather than addressing fixable problems that had been identified with it– an action that will allow China to become a dominant influence in the economies of not just Southeast Asia, but also East Africa and even parts of Europe. He’s announced his support for the use of torture. He has declared war on the media. He has ignored and trashed the Constitution. His insistence that “millions” of illegal votes were cast is both ridiculous and an affront to America’s democratic institutions.

And that’s just week one.

How long will the Republicans in Congress continue to enable this dangerous madman?  How many of Trump’s corrupt and ill-equipped Cabinet nominees will they obediently confirm? How long will their self-serving partisanship trump patriotism?

If there is a silver lining in any of this, it is in the horrified reaction of everyday Americans–the millions who marched, the multiple Resistance groups that have sprung up in the wake of the election, the throngs of protestors that spontaneously descended last night on the nation’s airports: the millions of Americans who know that we are better than this.

We the People cannot allow this to continue.