President Trump called himself “an environmentalist” while boasting about American oil and gas production at the G-7 summit in France on Monday. His answer came in response to a question about whether he believes in the reality of climate change, which he has previously described as a hoax.
He didn’t answer the question.
“In a nutshell, I want the cleanest water on earth. I want the cleanest air on earth,” Trump said at the end of a press conference before leaving the stage. “I’m an environmentalist. A lot of people don’t understand that. I’ve done more environmental impact statements ... than anybody that’s ever been president or vice president or anything even close to president.”
Environmental impact statements are required for most large development projects, such as building golf courses.
Frequently, the president has falsely claimed the United States has the cleanest air and water on earth, which conflates traditional measures of pollution with greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of global warming.
“I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth, the wealth is under its feet. I’ve made that wealth come alive,” he said. “I’m not gonna lose that wealth on dreams, on windmills, which frankly aren’t working too well.”
Trump boasted about opening up the previously untouched Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling after decades of political controversy.
With over half of the world’s new oil and gas pipelines located in North America, more drilling could “deliver a major blow to efforts to slow climate change,” the Guardian reported earlier this year, citing a recent Global Energy Monitor report.
“I think I know more about the environment than most people,” said Trump, who in 2017 announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement to globally reduce greenhouse gas emissions and was the only world leader who did not appear at the G-7 meeting on climate change over the weekend.
Last year, the world’s leading climate scientists released a report for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warning that globally, humans have until 2030 to cut carbon pollution and avoid the damaging effects of global warming like rising water levels and devastating storms.
Meanwhile, Trump has suggested that “we nuke” hurricanes headed toward the U.S.
“I want clear air. I want clean water. I want a wealthy country. I want a spectacular country with jobs, with pensions, with so many things,” Trump said.
But, he continued, “at the same time, it’s very important to me we have to maintain this incredible place that we’ve all built. We’ve become a much richer country. And that’s a good thing, not a bad thing, because that great wealth allows us to take care of people. We can take care of people that we couldn’t have taken care in the past.
“We can’t let that great wealth be taken away,” Trump added.
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