The 2018 Rubber Dodo Award – awarded to the person or group who has most aggressively sought to destroy America's natural heritage or drive species extinct – has been announced, and there are no prizes for guessing who won because who else could it be?
Yes, that’s right, President Donald J Trump, the man in charge of protecting the United States, has done more in the last 12 months to destroy the natural heritage of the US than any other person, as voted by the people, announced award founders, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).
“From wildlife to public lands to climate, Trump has wrecked, poisoned and polluted our environment on an unprecedented scale,” said CBD executive director Kierán Suckling.
“There’s never been a president with such a vicious approach to slashing protections for water, wildlife, lands, and oceans.”
So, what has he done to deserve the award? Where to begin?
The CBD lists the slashing of more than 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, opening up Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve to drilling after the Obama administration expanded protections to make it off-limits, and ramping up offshore drilling in most coastal states (though Florida, home of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, is strangely exempt).
His dubious ability to appoint leaders to the various US agencies designed to protect the environment also came under fire. From coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (Trump’s previous appointment, Scott Pruitt, famously resigned due to numerous scandals), to gas and oil lobbyist David Bernhardt leading the Department of the Interior (his predecessor Ryan Zinke, also resigned after numerous “ethics investigations"), and ardent Endangered Species Act opponent Susan Combs heading up its Wildlife and Parks department.
They also listed his anti-science stance, his climate change denying (or inability to even understand it), his attempts to repeal long-standing wildlife protections, from the Endangered Species Act to removing wolf protections in all 48 contiguous states, increasing logging on public lands, relaxing existing rules on air pollution, clean water, coal emissions, fuel emissions, methane emissions, and attempting to silence scientific research.
“Trump’s greed and ignorance know no bounds, and it’s having a profound effect on the natural world,” Suckling said.
He’s in good company. Past recipients of the ignoble accolade include last year’s winner, Ryan Zinke, who pushed through the aforementioned shrinking of the two national monuments – the biggest rollback in US history – to allow access for uranium mining lobbyists. In 2016, it was Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), who is leading the charge to repeal the Endangered Species Act (“He is so far outside the mainstream that even Donald Trump has rebuked him for his positions,” Suckling said at the time). Other years have seen Monsanto, the Koch brothers, Senator James Inhofe (yes, the guy who took a snowball onto the Senate floor to “prove” climate change isn’t real), and Sarah Palin all win the trophy.
Only one question remains. How the hell did Scot Pruitt escape this dubious honor?