In a sweeping rollback of environmental regulations that have been in place for 50 years, Donald Trump on Friday announced new rules that would severely curtail the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act. But in making the announcement, the president claimed that he was in fact, an “environmentalist,” and said that he’s “a big believer in that word: the environment,” as quoted by The Washington Post.
As proof of his claim to be an “environmentalist,” Trump cited a book, the title of which he could not recall. But media reports quickly identified the book he was referring to as Donald J. Trump: An Environmental Hero. According to the tech news site Gizmodo, the title is a 2016 self-published work by Edward Russo, “an environmental advisor for the Trump Organization,”
Trump’s revisions to the law, which was signed by former President Richard Nixon in 1970, would eliminate or cut back requirements that new federal infrastructure projects undergo a comprehensive review to assess their impact on the environment, and how any harmful effects could be prevented. The law was updated under former President Barack Obama in 2016 to require that all federal agencies discuss how projects would affect climate change in their environmental “impact” reports.
But in his remarks announcing the rollbacks, Trump said that the need for environmental review created “endless delays” that “waste money” and “deny jobs” to American workers.
Trump then proceeded to defend his environmental record.
“I want clean air. I want clean water. I want the cleanest air, want the cleanest water. The environment is very important to me,” he said, as quoted by The Washington Post, as he discussed the book without naming the author or providing the correct title.
“Somebody wrote a book that I’m an environmentalist – it’s actually called The Environmentalist,” Trump said, as quoted by The Guardian. “I’d like to get it.”
Despite saying that he would “like to get” the book, the president then went on to claim that he had a copy “in the other office.”
In the book, Russo claims that Trump offered him the job of environmental advisor to make sure that his building projects would not “negatively affect habitats,” according to the Guardian report. But Russo himself is on record supporting budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, and dismissing the effects of climate change, once saying, “Every time there’s lightning or thunder that, oh, it’s climate change,” as quoted by the publication.
Russo, however, claims to remain an informal advisor to Trump — unlike his ghostwriter on his 1987 bestseller The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, who has become one of the president’s most outspoken critics. Schwartz once described Trump’s personality as “a black hole,” and said that in his private thoughts, Trump “feels in every moment like a fraud.”