Last week, Donald Trump took a quick break from serving his foreign overlords and turned towards paying his dues to the people closer to home whose generous donations have helped put him into office. During a White House roundtable on small business and red tape reduction on Friday, he touched on a number of regulatory issues which have long been a thorn in the side of powerful interest groups that have spent a lot of money on the candidate they knew would most likely give a green light to their reckless exploitation of natural resources without any regard for the future of the planet.
The issue that got the largest amount of public attention – because of a string of bewildering and hilarious statements from the president – was water preservation. “Trump says EPA is looking into toilets ‘at my suggestion’”, read one headline from an NBC News post, and social media was brimming with toilet humor for at least one full news cycle. Apparently, low flow toilets are causing serious problems for Donald Trump and his supporters, which tells you a lot about the amount of excrement they produce.
In the same meeting, the president riffed on another topic that he had aired grievances about before: energy-efficient light bulbs. “The new bulb is many times more expensive,” he complained. “And I hate to say it, it doesn’t make you look as good. Of course, being a vain person, that’s very important to me.” He also stated – based on nothing in particular – that the energy-efficient light bulb is to blame for his orange complexion: “It gives you an orange look. I don’t want an orange look.” It would be great if someone could inform Donald Trump that his orange look problem could easily be resolved by laying off the spray tan which, incidentally, would probably also be good for the environment.
This rare instance of self-awareness as Donald Trump admitted to being a vain person earned him a dose of friendly laughter from attendees, but when you look beyond this moment of light-heartedness, the message here is grim and disheartening: the environment is supposed to take a backseat in favor of the personal vanity of a man who is occupying a position he was never meant to hold in the first place, and his selfish and ill-advised policy decisions are going to impact the lives of countless people, now and in the future.
Donald Trump’s push for deregulation is of course not only based on his personal whims and preferences. There are powerful interests guiding his decision making, and most of them – like the energy sector and the steel industry – have long moaned about environmental regulations. This became most obvious when Trump touched on the issue of fuel economy standards during Friday’s roundtable meeting. He mentioned his administration’s dispute with California over car emission standards and car safety and accused the state of putting “costly burdens” on producers and consumers “in order to save a tiny amount of fuel, of which we have plenty.” Trump then got into a convoluted argument about how cars that do not meet California standards are somehow not only cheaper but also better and safer: “Right now, the cars are made out of papier-maché. And ours are actually, … we allow steel content.”
Just a few days before Trump announced that he would continue his “bold deregulatory push” which pays no mind to the burning issue of climate change, Nancy Pelosi made room in her very busy schedule to travel to Spain with a delegation of Democratic lawmakers. At the climate summit in Madrid, she spoke up to reassure the global community of the American Congress’ continued commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement, regardless of the withdrawal announced by Donald Trump: “By coming here, we want to say to everyone: we are still in. The United States is still in.”
Democrats are diligently at work to pave the way for a future that is both Trump-free and emissions-free. Let’s do what we can to support them in this endeavor.