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New Focus for Earth Day 2017: National Security?

President Donald Trump's actions to roll back environmental regulations will be the focus of Earth Day demonstrations this week, in Michigan and across the country. (Anthony Baker/Wikimedia Commons)
President Donald Trump's actions to roll back environmental regulations will be the focus of Earth Day demonstrations this week, in Michigan and across the country. (Anthony Baker/Wikimedia Commons)
April 17, 2017

LANSING, Mich. – The Earth Day commemorations this coming Saturday will have a new focus – the Trump administration.

As the president rolls back programs that help slow climate change, national security experts say it could pose problems for the U.S. military he's also trying to build up.

Brendan McKinnon, a member of the Defense Council at the Truman National Security Project, says he didn't spend much time thinking about the environment until being deployed to the Arabian Gulf in 2008.

He says that changed his mind. He explains the sole mission for him, and fellow U.S. Coast Guard members, was protecting the one functioning Iraqi offshore oil platform.

"The Defense Department has long recognized climate change not just as an environmental threat, but as a threat multiplier throughout the world, because it magnifies the issues that our military is deployed to deal with," he explains.

President Donald Trump has argued that rolling back the EPA's Clean Power Plan is part of a larger strategy to minimize government regulations that he says cost jobs and slow economic growth.

But his environmental legacy is prompting some major push back, including March for Science demonstrations in Michigan and across the country this Saturday on Earth Day.

McKinnon points out that 99 percent of scientists and a majority of Americans, including Trump voters, don't want to ditch the Clean Power Plan. And he says this coming weekend's marches offer a powerful way to demonstrate that.

"So I think anything like that, where you can make your voice heard by the administration, so that they're hearing from more than the 12 coal miners that are on the stage with the president that think it's a good idea," he stats.

So far, there are 14 March for Science events scheduled in Michigan for Saturday, including in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Marquette. At least 425 marches will take place around the world.


Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI