President Donald Trump has his sights set on his 2020 presidential campaign and creating talking points on his accomplishments. Sources reported he intends to highlight his environmental record as a high point of his presidency.
This news comes despite EPA rollbacks by his administration and Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris Accord on climate change.
Former Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt's tenure at the EPA was marked by scandal leading to his eventual resignation. But his own conduct overshadowed the rollbacks and cuts he made to US environmental protections.
The Trump administration's reputation as a friend to big business over clean air, clean water and endangered wildlife was earned through several decisions by the President, including appointing Pruitt to head the EPA.
However, as is common of Trump, his version of his presidency includes success stories in his environmental record. Administration officials are developing talking points on climate change and his focusing on cleaner air and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Both of those accomplishments are the result of environmental protections put in place years before Trump took office. The President has since eliminated several regulations that created the success stories his 2020 campaign intends to tout.
Judd Deere, deputy White House press secretary, stated:
"President Trump believes you can grow the economy and protect the environment."
Andrew Wheeler, Trump's replacement for Pruitt, said in a recent speech:
"Today we have the cleanest air on record, and we are ranked No. 1 in the world for access to clean drinking water. As we continue to reduce pollution, we’re also reducing burdensome regulations."
But critics are crying foul over Trump's claims of environmental success.
David Doniger, a senior adviser to the NRDC Action Fund, an affiliate of the Natural Resources Defense Council responded:
"They’re whitewashing their sooty record. They’re taking credit for the law and the actions of their predecessors that they’re actively trying to roll back."
But reelection could hinge on Trump portraying himself as a friend to the environment as well as big business.
David Banks, a former Trjmp adviser, stated:
"For the president to win these battleground states, he’s going to have to have some record of environmental achievement to showcase. The environment and environmental issues can make or break you."
To that end, Trump touts his perceived achievements on Twitter.
“America: the Cleanest Air in the World - BY FAR!” https://t.co/rMtxHSnof4— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1540231232.0
But Trump saw pushback on his claims there too.
@realDonaldTrump And here is the map with the explanation of what we are really looking at. See how removing the wo… https://t.co/L9WM52pB2P— Anne Marie Price 🦋 (@Anne Marie Price 🦋) 1540266371.0
@realDonaldTrump Wrong. The U.S. does not have the cleanest air. 45 U.S. cities — including Atlanta, Chicago, Houst… https://t.co/XDaM5TiDmY— Callum Grieve (@Callum Grieve) 1540305285.0
@realDonaldTrump Pro tip: don’t tout good air quality while actively destroying the safeguards that helped us achie… https://t.co/B4wGpPj52a— Kelly Flanigan (@Kelly Flanigan) 1540301537.0
In the 2020 campaign, are swing voters going to buy what Trump is selling?
John Walke, a senior adviser to the NRDC Action Fund, stated:
"The Trump administration’s discussion of air pollution and climate pollution both suffer from two realities. First, the administration has nothing to do with decreasing emissions, and second, their rollback agenda is increasing dangerous air pollution and climate pollution."
"Once that’s established, all the rhetoric just collapses."