Air quality has gone downhill in the last two years compared to the end of President Obama's term.
Trump regularly brags about making America’s air cleaner, but evidence from his own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows the opposite is happening: The air we breathe is getting dirtier.
New EPA data shows that since 2016, a decades-long trend of improving air quality has started to backslide. In both 2017 and 2018, the number of unhealthy air days in metropolitan areas increased 15% compared to the last four years of President Obama’s administration, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
That's the exact opposite of what Trump regularly claims. During his embarrassing trip to Ireland in early June, Trump said, "We have the cleanest air in the world, in the United States, and it’s gotten better since I’m president."
At his big rally Tuesday in Orlando, Trump made a similar false claim: "We have among the cleanest and sharpest — crystal clean, you’ve heard me say it, I want it crystal clean — air and water anywhere on Earth."
Air pollution leads to the premature death of 100,000 Americans every year, the AP reports, and Trump’s own EPA shows not only worse air pollution, but a significant increase in the two worst categories: "very unhealthy" and "hazardous" conditions.
During the Trump administration, U.S. cities saw air pollution in one of these two categories nearly 140 times, which is almost three times as often as the average from 2013 to 2016.
In fact, the AP notes that the four years from 2013 and 2016, Obama's second term in office, were a "clean air heyday" for America that boasted the fewest unhealthy air days since 1980. That heyday appears to be over for now.
To make matters worse, on Wednesday the EPA finalized what will be its "biggest climate policy rollback," according to the Washington Post. The new rule will allow coal plants to spew more pollution into the air than a previous rule put in place by President Obama.
The new rule "is really a dereliction of duty — moral, ethical, but also legal," Andres Restrepo, a lawyer with the Sierra Club's Environmental Law Program, told the Post.
Scientists are unclear as to the exact reasons air pollution has gotten worse under Trump, but they say it’s very clear that his policies will make the situation worse.
"There is zero reason to expect any other outcome" than worsening air quality if Trump continues to roll back regulations, Neil Donahue, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told the AP.
While Trump has been in office, the air has gotten dirtier. His lies don’t make it cleaner, and his policies are on track to make it worse.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.