Trump is ‘the most anti-nature President in U.S. history’—report

Bears Ears National Monument

Flickr / Bureau of Land Management

Teddy Roosevelt must be turning in his grave: apparently, making America great again means undoing years of protections for public lands.

A new report from the Center for American Progress highlights just how much Trump has undermined conservation efforts. He’s removed or is attempting to remove protections from 35 million acres of public land.

To put that in perspective, that’s an area the size of Florida. It’s like if Trump eliminated a National Park 15 times the size of Yellowstone.

Trump is the worst president for America’s public lands

Center for American Progress

This attack on public lands is truly unprecedented. As the Center for American Progress puts it, “President Trump is the only president in U.S. history to have removed more public lands than he protected.” That why they call him “the most anti-nature president in U.S. history.”

This isn’t partisan politics

Trump’s actions are at odds with previous Republican presidents. Even George W. Bush placed protections on almost 4 million acres of land while he was president. H.W. Bush and Reagan conserved far more, at 17.8 million and 12.5 million acres, respectively.

Of course, those numbers are tiny compared to Obama’s 548 million acres. But the point still stands that what Trump has done isn’t business as usual. It’s his own, unique brand of pandering to gas and oil companies—and make no mistake, that’s exactly what he’s doing.

From protected lands to a polluter’s playground

Trump has targeted lands in 12 states, but Alaska has been one of the most impacted. Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling is one of Trump’s primary goals. He’s also trying to undo an Obama-era prohibition on development in half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Other impacted states include Minnesota, where a metal company owned by Ivanka Trump’s landlord has long been trying to mine around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Utah and Montana both had multiple sites stripped of their protections.

In the colonized U.S., exploiting land is par for the course

It’s worth noting that Indigenous peoples are often the ones most affected when lands are opened up for resource extraction.

Much of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is located on the homelands of the Gwich’in people. Drilling on the Refuge would endanger the caribou that have been an integral part of the Gwich’in’s culture and survival for millennia.

Thousands of miles away, the Tohono O’odham have long performed religious ceremonies in the land that currently makes up the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. But Trump removed protections from that area to build his border wall.

And then there’s Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which Trump reduced by about 85%. Over a dozen Indigenous nations, including the Jicarilla Apache, the Hopi, and the Navajo have connections to that area. Several tribes are currently fighting in the courts to save Bears Ears.

While the judicial system could reverse some of Trump’s decisions, it’s unlikely that all 35 million acres will be saved. We can only hope that Trump’s successor will be able to replace those protections before the mining and drilling companies can do too much harm.

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