July 15, 2019
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Trump touts his record on the environment

Lucia Leal.

Washington, Jul 8 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump, in a bid to reassure voters concerned about his support for the fossil fuel industry, said Monday that his administration's policies have made the United States a world leader on the environment.

"From day one, my administration has made it a top priority to ensure that America is among the very cleanest air and cleanest water on the planet," he said in a speech at the White House.

At the same time, he insisted on the importance of economic growth.

"We will defend the environment but we will also defend American sovereignty, American prosperity and American jobs," the Republican president said.

Democrats and environmentalists, who have denounced Trump for his 2017 decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate, were unimpressed by the speech, which, according to media accounts, was motivated by worries that the administration's environmental policies could hurt the president's 2020 re-election campaign.

Yet instead of acknowledging climate change as a problem, Trump renewed his attacks on the Paris Agreement, calling it unfair to the US.

He insisted that the US leads all countries in reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases.

"We're unlocking American energy and the U.S. is now a net exporter of clean, affordable, American natural gas," he said. "Since 2000, our nation's energy-related carbon emissions have declined more than any other country on earth."

US greenhouse emissions grew 3.4 percent in 2018, the largest increase in eight years, and Trump scrapped predecessor Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which set a goal of reducing emissions 32 percent by 2030, taking the 2005 level as a baseline.

The president cited a provision of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade - replacing NAFTA - addressing the problem of plastic waste in the world's oceans as an example of Washington's leadership on the environment.

The trade accord, which has yet to be ratified by the US Congress, calls for efforts "to take on the challenge of marine litter and debris," Trump said.

On a day that saw the White House basement flood amid torrential rains in the nation's capital, the president referred to last year's catastrophic fires in Democratic-governed California, but placed the blame on lack of effective forest management, making no mention of climate change.

Hours before Trump spoke, the White House released a fact sheet pointing out that the US has cut cumulative emissions of the most common air pollutants fell by 74 percent between 1970 and 2018.

Environmental organizations, however, say those gains were due to laws and regulations that Trump has been rolling back.

The executive director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune, said that the president's address "was full of more hot air than his dangerous policies and rollbacks are pumping into our atmosphere."

"No amount of speeches, lies, or stunts will ever change the fact that Donald Trump has the worst record on the environment and climate of any president in American history," Brune said in a statement. EFE

llb/dr

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