Stop the President, Save the Environment

President Trump again made it plain this week, in moving to drastically cut the size of two protected areas of public land in the West, that he favors exploitation over historical and environmental protection, and over the survival of Native American cultural sites and artifacts. In Utah, he announced Monday that the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments would be reduced to a fraction of their former selves. This is a sad day for those who care about open spaces and America’s wild lands.

Court battles are sure to follow the White House’s decision to reduce the monuments by a total of about two million acres — the greatest such diminution in United States history. One of the opponents’ arguments will be that only Congress has the legal right to shrink national monuments.

Mr. Trump framed the move as a return of authority to local elected officials and away from Washington. But it really is further pandering to anti-government zealots while handing a victory to Republican lawmakers, oil and coal companies, and others.

If Mr. Trump thinks about it at all, his is decidedly an anti-human health and anti-environment administration. Just this week 15 state attorneys general sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to meet clean air law requirements on smog. The suit was in response to the E.P.A.’s refusal to follow through on state-by-state plans to reduce air pollution. 

Under Scott Pruitt, the Trump E.P.A. has made a mockery of its name. Mr. Pruitt has spent much of his early tenure gutting regulations, ignoring science, cutting staff, and naming industry insiders to key positions, while, according to news reports, spending his days meeting privately with corporate executives seeking to relax environmental rules.

And who could forget the administration’s abandoning the Paris climate agreement, which now leaves the United States and Syria the only nonsigners?

As 2018 approaches, activists are gearing up to take on Mr. Trump and the Republican Congress at the ballot box. Concern about how we treat the planet and respect its natural resources should be at the top of the issues of interest to voters.