Trump offered himself as the greatest environmental president since Theodore Roosevelt.
“Who would have thought. Trump is the great environmentalist?” the president said. “You hear that? That’s good, and I am. I am. I believe strongly in it.”
Trump, though, has rolled back numerous regulations meant to protect the environment, from power plant emissions to auto fuel standards to clean water. He withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, a global agreement to address the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
The Trump administration has made the environment a primary target of his deregulatory push, eliminating or weakening dozens of rules that protect the nation’s air and water quality and lands essential for imperiled species while reversing Obama-era initiatives to fight climate change.
Trump replaced Obama’s Clean Power Plan aimed at slashing greenhouse gas pollution from electric plants and eased automobile fuel economy standards. Under Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency stripped federal protection from millions of acres of streams and wetlands. He lifted restrictions on oil and gas exploration in sensitive areas and shortened environmental reviews of construction projects such as highways and pipelines.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a longtime Trump ally who has opposed the administration’s drilling exploration expansion plans, applauded Tuesday’s announcement as “good news” but warned “we must remain vigilant in the conservation and preservation of our coastline.”
“South Carolina is blessed with the most beautiful and pristine beaches, sea islands, and marshes in the nation,” McMaster said. “Seismic testing and offshore drilling threatens their health and jeopardizes the future of our state’s $24 billion tourism industry.”
Soon after the initial expansion plans were floated early in Trump’s term, McMaster advocated against drilling and met with then-U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to seek an exemption for the state. McMaster has also signed into law a state budget proviso prohibiting state or local government funds from being used for offshore oil and gas-related activities.
Trump said he had also been discussing extending the moratorium with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who greeted Trump at the airport in West Palm Beach and attended the Jupiter event.
“This protects your beautiful gulf and your beautiful ocean, and it will for a long time to come,” Trump told the audience of about 200 people, including federal and state officials and members of Congress. Few wore face coverings or practiced social distancing.