Destroy as much as you can while there’s still time
Back when I was working for a Congressman on Capitol Hill in the early 1990s, one of the issues we championed was protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from oil drilling. As part of his purported National Energy Policy at the time, the first President Bush had called for drilling there. After all, this was the era before fracking, before the United States had re-established itself as the world’s largest oil producer, and one of its largest exporters. Back then, at least increasing our oil production and thus reducing our dependence on foreign oil producers as well as lowering the price of oil was a legitimate argument in favor of despoiling ANWR. No more, though.
Now, we are once again the world’s leading oil producer, generating 18 percent of the world’s oil. Now we have much more fuel-efficient vehicle technologies such as electric cars and the hybrid vehicle I now drive. Even the large pick-ups are far more fuel-efficient than they were back in the 1990s, and all without compromising their power. Oil prices are low on a real basis. Any of the arguments used in favor of drilling ANWR in the 1990s have disappeared.
So why is the Trump administration opening up ANWR for drilling now? Any of the legitimate arguments, whether you disagree with them or not, have since disappeared. The one justification that still remains is greed.
Not that we should be surprised. The Trump administration’s defining characteristic has been greed. Whether it be a tax cut that benefits only the very rich, Jared and Ivanka making millions while purportedly working for the people, or Trump renting his properties to the Air Force and Secret Service, to name just a few examples, this White House has been all about taking care of Trump and his cronies. Indeed, his conflicts of interest are of historic proportions.
Trump may be stupid, but he’s not naive. Despite his bluster, he is well aware of his evaporating odds of re-election. Were he not in such a panic, believe me, he would not be going to the lengths he has been, attacking the post office of all things. And you don’t fire your campaign manager if you’re winning.
His lackeys, at least the few with brains in their heads, are equally concerned, as are his big money contributors. Trump’s biggest problem is Trump. At a certain point, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The American people are unhappy with how things are going, and they are going to take it out on the incumbent administration.
So at a minimum, there is a dawning realization in Trumpworld that the party could be coming to an end soon. What’s more, they realize that the Democrats are chomping at the bit to undo everything he did accomplish. So what do you do when closing time fast approaches? Order as many drinks as you can. Metaphorically speaking, that is exactly what Trump is doing right now. They’re trying to steal everything they can while they still have time.
That’s why Bill Barr is rushing to file an anti-trust lawsuit against Google over the objections of Justice Department staff. Landmark environmental regulations are being rolled back to allow developers faster access to pristine land. Indeed, using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse, Trump has granted federal agencies and moneyed interests wholesale authorization to ignore regulations that protect the environment and consumers.
Their favorite kind of action is the kind that will be difficult to undo. Expect the administration to push oil companies and developers to take advantage of these steps as quickly as possible. In their view, once an oil well is in place or ground has been broken on a development, it will be a lot harder for the next administration to put the cat back in the bag.
For anyone who thinks this administration will go softly into the night, these actions should serve as a warning. Truthfully, it is hard to keep track of the outrages of this administration on a daily basis. But one trend that is hard to ignore is their intent to take advantage of what could be their last few months in office to cause as much damage as possible, as long as it stands to benefit themselves or one of their buddies.