by Mia DiFelice
At a rally in Florida last night, former President Donald Trump announced his third run for the White House.
Given the past president’s track record, we’re just as worried as you are. Trump’s threats to democracy are serious and well known. The many ways Trump has attacked our food, water and climate are perhaps less well known.
Throughout his four years in office, the former president rolled back regulations and handed out freebies to polluting industries and greedy corporations. He gutted the EPA and blocked all climate action efforts, risking climate catastrophe for more and more communities.
Along the way, Food & Water Watch has taken a stand against each of these attacks. These three fights show what we will face if Trump spends another four years in the White House. But more importantly, they show how we have continued to fight, and will continue to fight, for the planet.
Trump’s attack on the Clean Water Act
In 1972, lawmakers passed the Clean Water Act to protect our waterways and wetlands from runaway pollution. But more than forty years later, the Trump administration has proposed a new rule to erase one of the law’s most important measures.
The law allows states to block federal permits for infrastructure that would violate state laws by significantly impacting waterways within their borders. States also have wide discretion in how they review such projects.
But the Trump administration has offered to shorten the time during which states and tribes can review projects. He also proposed limiting the factors that state agencies could consider in their reviews.
These rules paved the way not only for more polluted water, but also for more oil and gas projects. So when the Biden administration ordered the EPA to review the changes, Food & Water Watch submitted comments. And this year, the administration has proposed a reversal of the Trump-era changes.
Trump’s slaughterhouse rollbacks endanger workers and consumers
We know that slaughterhouses are far from pleasant and that taking shortcuts can have dangerous consequences. This is why, before Trump, federal inspectors searched for and removed feces from pig carcasses.
But the Trump administration has introduced rules allowing slaughterhouse workers to take on that responsibility. We knew that was bad news, and our analysis found that meatpacking plants enforcing the new rules had double the violations compared to those still following the old rules. These factories were also almost twice as likely to be cited for contamination.
It’s a classic story of letting companies control themselves. These rules allowed many factories to get away with releasing carcasses from the line that were contaminated with human pathogens, including Salmonella.
Additionally, the administration has proposed rescinding line speed standards at poultry plants. Although the USDA rejected the rule, it threatened to make poultry plants more dangerous for workers and consumers.
The new speeds would have made it even harder for inspectors to do their job thoroughly, risking more contamination and foodborne illness.
In addition, faster speeds endanger workers on the ground. Speeding up work with heavy bladed machinery increases the risk of accidents. It also aggravates repetitive stress injuries, already common in the industry, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Already, meatpacking has one of the highest injury rates of any industry in the country.
‘Bomb trains’ roll through neighborhoods over Trump deal
Before the Trump administration, liquefied natural gas (LNG) could not travel by rail – and for good reason. This involves moving huge volumes of explosive chemicals at high temperature and extreme pressure. An accident can have – and has had – catastrophic consequences.
But in 2020, the Trump administration finalized a rule allowing LNG by rail, sending “bomb trains” into neighborhoods on aging rail lines. The rule also eliminated notice and comment requirements for LNG rail shipments, meaning frontline communities might not even know such dangerous railcars were passing.
The rules also allowed special permits for certain LNG routes. So even when the Biden administration suspended the rule, companies with special permits continued to transport LNG by rail. These special permits include lines shared with private cars and lines passing dangerously close to residential areas.
Food & Water Watch submitted comments on the rule and blocked new routes. Then, in 2022, we sounded the alarm when we found that half of South Floridians were at risk of being evacuated – or worse – in the event of an explosion on an LNG road. We also found that people of color and low-income communities are more likely to live in evacuation zones and even After likely to live in “lethal zones” around roads.
Trump rollbacks like those around LNG transportation not only allow climate-destroying industries like fracking to continue to pollute and profit — they also endanger the lives and livelihoods of communities already vulnerable.
We know how to fight during a Trump presidency
This year’s midterm reviews have proven that Trump’s reign as kingmaker may finally be waning. The leading endorsed candidates failed to win their seats, even in constituencies that should have been won. This, along with the Democrats’ strong performance in the November election, shows us that another Trump administration is far from guaranteed.
But if the former president returns to the White House, we are ready. We’ve spent four years perfecting strategies and winning fights already. If Trump returns in 2024, we will continue to organize and demand bold action from our elected officials. With your help, we will continue the fight for safe food, clean water and a livable climate, no matter who stands in our way.
We continue to fight, with your support!
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