Ep. 65: Fact Check: Trump’s Environmental Speech

Nathaniel Rich argues that an appeal to rationality is not sufficient to motivate the level of transformational change that's required to deal with the climate change crisis. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Surrounding by several members of his cabinet, President Trump recently gave a speech at the White House touting his own environmental record. Even though he’s tried to rolled back environmental regulations at a record pace, Trump painted a picture of a country where economic growth has occurred as the environment has gotten cleaner. On this episode, we fact check the speech with Rebecca Leber of Mother Jones.

One of the messages that Trump repeatedly tried to get across was that the United States is getting cleaner as its economy is growing. But Leber says he’s just plain wrong to say that the U.S. has the cleanest air and cleanest water in the world. 

“It can depend on the category but on broad metrics for water and air, we are not generally the cleanest in the world. Switzerland usually gets that honor,” she says. “The other thing he's doing when he talks about clean air and water is he's ignoring climate pollution. Of course this is a White House that doesn't like to talk about climate change but he is completely ignoring that carbon pollution and methane is still spiking in the U.S. and globally.” 

Leber argues that Trump is trying to build a case for no more regulation by saying we did our job on the environment and we're done. Now let's just worry about the economy. 

“Trump was saying [that] good economy helps the environment and economic growth means environmental gains,” says Leber. “And as the Clean Air Act showed us, economic gain does not translate to less pollution. In fact it can translate to lots more pollution. So the Clean Air Act shows us how the government plays an important role here in making sure when the economy grows that it's clean.

So why did Trump make this speech? What was he trying to accomplish? And was he successful? Listen to the entire interview with Rebecca Leber to find out.

>>Listen to the entire episode below or wherever you get your podcasts.