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By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – As the 2020 presidential campaign gets underway President Donald Trump has started to look more closely at what some of his constituents think are the country’s most pressing problems, including some he has often criticized: the environment and climate change.

Miami Beach, Florida,President Trump touted his Administration's environmental accomplishments during a briefing last week.
President Trump touted his Administration’s environmental accomplishments during a briefing last week, photo by Tia Dufour/White House.

“From day one, my administration has made it a top priority to ensure that America has among the very cleanest air and cleanest water on the planet,” said President Trump last week during a White House briefing.

“We want the cleanest air.  We want crystal-clean water, and that’s what we’re doing and that’s what we’re working on so hard,” he told his audience.

The President, who once claimed climate change was a hoax, also said that the U.S. was doing more than any other country in terms of reducing carbon emissions and did not need to follow international accords.

“Every single one of the signatories to the Paris Climate Accord lags behind America in overall emissions reductions. For this reason, in my first year in office, I withdrew the United States from the unfair, ineffective, and very, very expensive Paris Climate Accord,” he said.

New Orleans mayor, Mitch Landrieu, disagrees. “Climate change is a threat that affects us all, and it is a real and present danger to our coastal communities,” Landrieu said right after the U.S. withdrew from the Agreement.

“Here in Louisiana, we face a triple threat: subsidence, coastal erosion and sea level rise. If unchecked, New Orleans, like many coastal cities, will cease to exist. The Paris Agreement remains the world’s greatest weapon to combat this existential threat,” he concluded.

Critics say that the U.S. has actually masqueraded results and influenced research so as to soften the negative effect consequences of climate change in the country.

In March the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), linked to the federal government released a study that climate change could have a devastating effect on California’s coastline, flooding properties and negatively affecting the state’s economy.

The study found that the effects of climate change and sea level rising could lead to over $100 billion in losses in California alone, exposing residents to severe flooding and forest fires. The final version of the USGS press release on the study however focused more on the methodology of the study than on its findings.

Miami Beach, Florida,Flooding in South Carolina, one of the impacts of climate change.
Flooding in South Carolina, one of the impacts of climate change, photo by Stephen Lehmann/Coast Guard.

According to analysts, the USGS press release was in line with strategy implemented by the Trump administration to downplay climate research and findings.

“It’s been made clear to us that we’re not supposed to use climate change in press releases anymore. They will not be authorized,” one federal researcher said, speaking anonymously was quoted as saying by E&E news.

According to an E&E story, researchers said that while in the Obama administration, press releases related to climate change were typically approved within days, in the Trump era they can take more than six months and go through the offices of political appointees, where they are often altered.

News that officials at the Department of Agriculture buried dozens of studies related to climate change were also recently reported by Politico magazine.

With data showing that the U.S. electorate is increasingly more concerned with the effects of climate change, many 2020 presidential candidates have already made the matter one of their top concerns.

Voter perception of President Trump’s views on the issue, however, is not very positive. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll found that 62 percent of voters disapprove of the Administration’s behavior towards climate change.

Last week’s briefing may be the first sign of the Administration’s change in discourse about the environment and the effects of climate change.

“We have only one America. We have only one planet. That’s why, every day of my presidency, we will fight for a cleaner environment and a better quality of life for every one of our great citizens,” concluded President Trump.

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