On 21 January, one day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, millions of people took to the streets in protests across the country and around the world. The marches were spurred by Trump’s treatment of women, but the focus expanded to include issues ranging from apparent hostility towards environmental regulations to disregard for the truth. Many hoped that the sobering reality of entering the White House would transform Trump’s approach into something more conventionally presidential, but the early signs are not promising.
Trump’s inauguration speech was heavy on populist and nationalist rhetoric that, if carried out, would probably herald the end the United States’ leadership abroad. At home, he has put a freeze on hiring across the federal government, excluding the military and any positions related to national security and public safety. He also reiterated his plans to freeze regulations set in motion by his predecessor and to roll back pro-environment policies already in place.
Trump threw a bone to scientists with a pledge to explore space and to battle disease, but one of the first documents posted on the White House website was a bare-bones energy plan that emphasizes fossil-fuel development and makes no mention of the threat of climate change. The plan takes aim at “burdensome” environmental regulations and says that the Environmental Protection Agency should focus on protecting air and water, as opposed to the climate. Although it mentions — but does not define — “clean coal technology”, the plan ignores the struggling nuclear-energy sector as well as a burgeoning renewables industry that could provide countless jobs across the country in the coming decades.