Report: Trump’s policies hurt Nevadans’ health and the environment

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night rally in Las Vegas, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

By Isabel Soisson

February 29, 2024

A recent report from the advocacy organization Climate Power details how the policies implemented during former president Donald Trump’s time in the White House not only polluted Nevada’s air and water, but also worsened the climate crisis as a whole.

Under President Trump, the US saw 15% more days with unhealthy air quality than under President Obama, according to the Environmental Defense Action Fund. This is particularly notable considering seven of Nevada’s 17 counties and metropolitan areas recorded unhealthy air quality in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Trump also gutted critical protections that made air and water cleaner by throwing a lifeline to the coal industry in 2019, loosening regulations on coal-powered plants and the disposal of coal ash, which can threaten drinking water quality. This move was especially harmful for Nevada, where 772,000 tons of coal ash are generated annually.

The former president also repealed the Clean Power Plan, which allowed coal power plants to continue to pollute the air, and rolled back protections for streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act, which affected 89% of Nevada’s stream miles.

Trump further weakened regulations for cleaning toxic heavy metals from coal power plant wastewater, which is notable as the Reid Gardner plant northeast of Las Vegas is the country’s second-most contaminated coal ash site. That site’s groundwater has lithium and arsenic concentrations that are 243 times and 121 times greater than safe levels respectively.

Additionally, Trump staffed key climate policy positions with fossil fuel lobbyists and gave fossil fuel corporations $25 billion in additional tax breaks.

Trump’s air quality policies had a particularly negative effect on the Latino community in Nevada, which makes up nearly a third of the population of the state.

Trump’s policies allowed more particle pollution to exist in the air, and numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to various problems, including premature death, heart attacks, and aggravated asthma. Hispanics are twice as likely to visit the ER for asthma concerns, and Hispanic children are 40% more likely to die from asthma than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.

Trump’s environmental policies also cost many workers their jobs.

Trump imposed tariffs on the solar power industry, which has a particular effect on Nevada, the state with the highest-solar power potential in the country. These actions alone cost Americans 1.1 million clean energy jobs, according to Climate Power.

More broadly, the climate crisis and its deadly impacts worsened while the Trump administration actively denied climate science.

Two of Nevada’s largest and most-populous cities, Las Vegas and Reno, are also the country’s first and second-fastest warming cities. During Trump’s first year as president in 2017, the number of heat-related deaths in Southern Nevada soared nearly 58% from the previous year, according to the National Weather Service. East Las Vegas, a predominantly Latino community, tends to experience even higher temperatures.

Unhoused people are also particularly affected by extreme heat due to lack of shelter. In 2019 and 2020 combined, 333 unhoused people in Clark County died from heat-related causes alone.

In stark contrast to Trump’s handling of the climate crisis, the Biden administration has taken steps to further regulate corporate polluters, and passed legislation to lower energy costs and create clean energy jobs in the state.

In early February, Biden announced new air pollution standards that’ll lower the amount of small particle pollution, like soot and smoke, allowed in the air we breathe–soot is one of the deadliest and most widespread pollutants in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that this new standard will help avoid up to 4,500 premature deaths, 5,700 cases of asthma, and 290,000 lost workdays annually. Additionally, it could result in public health net benefits of up to $46 billion.

Climate Power Executive Director Lori Lodes said in a statement that this action “will be especially impactful in communities of color and low-income areas that have paid the health and economic price of corporate greed for far too long.”

“When Donald Trump was president, he filled the EPA with oil and coal lobbyists and weakened clean air standards,” she added. “President Biden has spent three years cleaning up Trump’s mess, and America can’t afford another Trump term.”

Biden also passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which will further lower the cost of clean energy in the state. Since the law was signed, companies have announced 11 new clean energy projects in Nevada, which has created 15,580 new jobs and driven over $12 billion in clean energy investments.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

CATEGORIES: CLIMATE | POLITICS

Politics

Local News

Related Stories
Share This