the national interest

Trump Promised to Ignore Climate Change But Have Clean Air. He Lied.

Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump has always drawn a sharp public distinction between greenhouse-gas pollution, which he dismisses as a Chinese hoax, and other kinds of air pollution, which he concedes to be real. He has promised “to promote clean air and water.” A cover story in National Review credulously quotes Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt promising that the Trump administration will impose even stronger protection of clean air than the Obama administration had demanded.

But that promise has been utterly empty. The Trump administration has weakened Clean Air Act enforcement of many pollutants, not just the harmless carbon emissions that a worldwide cabal of scientists has conspired to pretend have heat-trapping properties. The EPA announced Thursday night it was eliminating a rule, dating back to 1995, that “requires facilities that annually emit 10 tons or more of a single air pollutant or 25 tons or more of a group of pollutants to use the maximum achievable technology controls to lower their pollution.” The rules apply to nearly 200 pollutants, reports The Wall Street Journal, and can reduce pollution of them by 95 percent.

As a political message, it probably sounded good to mix Trump’s denial of climate science with nice-sounding promises to fight “real” air pollution. But the flaw in that plan is that Trump’s policy is driven, or even dictated, by industries. And industries want to be able to dump their pollutants into the air for free. They don’t really care if conservatives have developed a pseudoscientific theory purporting why the pollutants are harmless. They just want to be able to do their business cheaply. And that’s what Trump is enabling.

Trump Promised Clean Air. He Lied.