On his way out the door, Donald Trump is literally playing dirty, apparently trying to cripple the incoming Biden administration, but in the meantime, damaging our nation and possibly even jeopardizing the lives of thousands in the years ahead.
The latest nasty little present the Trump administration is leaving for Biden is a rejection of tougher standards on soot, a deadly air pollutant, which had been recommended by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
By lowering current thresholds for fine-particle pollution (soot) from the current 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air to between 8 and 10, between 9,050 and 34,600 lives could be saved every year, the scientists said.
But EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lawyer, refused to accept the recommendation, leaving the current standards in place for another five years. Like many Trump administration actions, this one strikes particularly hard at communities of color, because many Black neighborhoods are near facilities that emit such pollutants, according to The Washington Post, and because many people of color work there.
Before joining the Trump administration, Wheeler worked in the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, representing coal magnate Robert E. Murray and lobbying against the Obama Administration's environmental regulations. So it shouldn't be surprising that Wheeler has done what he came to do. And so, coal advocates in West Virginia gleefully called the decision a major win for the coal industry.
That decision was just the latest in several late actions by the Trump administration that have included withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, securing oil drilling leases in Alaska, carrying out executions of federal prisoners on death row, and more.
As The New York Times wrote on Nov. 21:
At a wide range of departments and agencies, Mr. Trump’s political appointees are going to extraordinary lengths to try to prevent Mr. Biden from rolling back the president’s legacy. They are filling vacancies on scientific panels, pushing to complete rules that weaken environmental standards, nominating judges and rushing their confirmations through the Senate, and trying to eliminate health care regulations that have been in place for years.
In late October, Trump opened up more than 9.3 million acres of forest -- more than half of Alaska's Tongass National Forest to logging and other development, stripping protections that had safeguarded one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests for nearly two decades.
He also signed an executive order, also in late October, to reclassify numerous career federal government employees to make it easier for them to be hired and fired, a move critics warn politicizes the Civil Service and could result in career officials being fired for political reasons. Of course, that occurred before the election, likely a move designed to give Trump more power in his second term.
Since that's not going to happen, Trump has spent much of his time purging people he deemed as disloyal, such as Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who disagreed with him on sending military troops to control Black Lives Matter protests, and Homeland Security's cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs for public stating that there was no fraud in the 2020 election.
Certainly, that's not a complete list of dirty Trump deeds, probably not by a long shot, and no doubt there will be more to come. The bottom line is Trump is being Trump -- vindictive, mean, and playing dirty.
No matter the consequences.
However, when Biden takes office, you can expect a series of executive orders undoing many of the disastrous actions taken by Trump.
They will include rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, reversing Trump's withdrawal from the World Health Organization, repealing the ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries, and reinstating the DACA program that allows young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in this country.
Biden has said he plans to immediately reverse Trump's rollback of 100 public health and environmental rules that had been implemented by the Obama administration, as well as instituting new ethics guidelines and prohibiting members of his administration from attempting to influence investigations by the U.S. Justice Department.
So, while Trump continues to be his petty, petulant self, denying, attacking, refusing to accept reality, and taking mean, vindictive actions meant to hurt Biden, soon this will end and America will be on its way to being good once more.