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A Complete Disregard for Democracy: Greenpeace Condemns Trump's Move on Pipelines & Silencing of EPA

StoryJanuary 25, 2017
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In addition to issuing presidential memos to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, President Trump and his team have taken several other actions that have alarmed environmentalists. All references to climate change have been removed from the White House website. Reuters is reporting the Environmental Protection Agency has also been ordered to remove its climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research as well as detailed data on emissions. The EPA has also been prohibited from issuing press releases, publishing blog updates or even posting information on social media. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has abruptly canceled a major conference on climate change and public health. We speak to Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. In addition to issuing presidential memos to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, President Trump and his team have taken several other actions that have alarmed environmentalists. All references to climate change have been removed from the White House website. Reuters is reporting the Environmental Protection Agency has also been ordered to remove its climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research as well as detailed data on emissions. The EPA has also been prohibited from issuing press releases, publishing blog updates or even posting information on social media. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has abruptly canceled a major conference on climate change and public health.

Joining us now from Berkeley, California, is Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA.

Annie, as we wrap up this show, can you talk about the executive actions on Dakota Access pipeline, Keystone XL, and all of what we’re seeing right now in the new Trump administration?

ANNIE LEONARD: Absolutely. You know, I’m actually very worried. I’ve been an environment activist for about a quarter of a century, and there have been many uphill battles. But in the past, we were operating within a framework where there was some respect for democracy, some respect for science, a stronger grasp on reality than President Trump is indicating. His actions yesterday, both on the pipelines as well as trying to muzzle the Environmental Protection Agency, demonstrate a complete disregard for indigenous treaty rights, a complete disregard for environmental laws—that executive orders and memoranda don’t change; those pipelines still have to go through NEPA, through the Clean Water Act—a complete disregard for democracy. Millions and millions of people have voiced opposition to these pipelines. But perhaps most troubling is a complete disconnect from reality. The vast majority of the world’s scientists say that 80 percent of remaining oils needs to stay underground. The last thing we should be doing is investing in more pipeline. It’s terrifying that he thinks this is an appropriate direction to move our country in.

AMY GOODMAN: And the argument he makes that this means more jobs?

ANNIE LEONARD: Well, this is one of the few things I do agree with President Trump on, is that we need more jobs. But we need sustainable, healthy and safe jobs. And the real way to get long-term meaningful jobs is through the transition to clean energy, whether it’s retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient, whether it’s building actual infrastructure for clean energy. There is an almost infinite number of healthy, sustainable, good jobs available, and that’s where we need to be investing in for this much-needed jobs delivery.

AMY GOODMAN: You said in your statement, the Greenpeace statement, "A powerful alliance of Indigenous communities, ranchers, farmers, and climate activists stopped the Keystone and the Dakota Access pipelines the first time around." Protests have broken out all over the country right now around resumption of this. What do you feel the protest movement needs to do? And what does President Trump need to actually push these pipelines through?

ANNIE LEONARD: You know, I’m not sure there’s anything that President Trump could do to actually push these pipelines through, because in addition to actual laws and environmental impact statements, there’s all of us. There are people. The word that I’m hearing more than any other these days is "resistance." Actually, the second one would be "unity." All across the country, indigenous groups, climate groups, farmers’ groups, labor groups—all these different people are coming together and saying, "We will resist. We are not going to go away quietly. We’re actually not going to go away. We’re going to fight with everything we have, because what’s at stake really is everything that we love. It’s our democracy. It’s water. It’s our multicultural communities. We’re not giving up. We’re not going away. We’re going to resist."

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, it seems very likely that Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, will be the next secretary of state, already approved by the committee, now the full Senate vote. Your response?

ANNIE LEONARD: You know, for a long time, we have fought against or been very concerned about the influence of fossil fuel money in our democracy. This appointment is just stunning in terms of an absolute, complete merger with our government and the biggest fossil fuel industries in the country. It just shows that the onus on making sure that things are handled appropriately is now on the people. More than ever before, we need to be awake, we need to be alert, and we need to be involved.

AMY GOODMAN: Annie Leonard, I want to thank you very much for being with us, executive director of Greenpeace USA.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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