WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared his support for the environment and scientific research on his first Earth Day in the White House amid harsh criticisms over his actions to roll back environmental regulations and proposed cuts to non-military spending, including at the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Rigorous science is critical to my administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” Trump said in a statement Saturday as thousands of marchers filled the streets of downtown Washington to support science and evidence-based research — a protest partly fueled by opposition to Trump’s threats of budget cuts to agencies funding scientists’ work.
“My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks,” Trump said. “As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.
“This April 22nd, as we observe Earth Day, I hope that our nation can come together to give thanks for the land we all love and call home,” Trump added.
In a tweet later Saturday, however, Trump stated that while he is “committed” to environmental protection, people shouldn’t forget that “jobs matter.”
“Always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection,” he said on his official Twitter account.
The Trump administration released a $1.1 trillion budget outline last month that makes good on a number of campaign promises. While the budget blueprint would increase defense spending by $54 billion in fiscal 2018, it would make corresponding cuts to the State Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, which would lose about a third of its funding, and eliminate other federal programs.
Asked at the White House’s roll-out of the spending proposal about the cuts to climate change-related programs, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said those programs are “a waste of your money.”
“I think the President was fairly straightforward,” he said. “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that. So that is a specific tie to his campaign.”
But Trump dismissed any idea Saturday that his administration will not promote policies in the best interest of the environment months after making comments that some considered dismissive of climate change.
“My administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species,” the President said in his statement.
Trump argued that advocating for greener environmental policies must not come at the expense of jobs. He vowed last month to end “the war on coal” by cutting “job-killing regulations” and putting miners back to work.
“Economic growth enhances environmental protection,” Trump said Saturday. “We can and must protect our environment without harming America’s working families.”
“That is why my administration is reducing unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies, while being mindful that our actions must also protect the environment,” he added.