- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2019

A White House event to highlight President Trump’s environmental record turned into a political mini-rally Monday when one of the president’s invited guests gave Mr. Trump a forceful endorsement for reelection from the podium.

Bruce Hrobak, a charter fishing-boat captain from Port St. Lucie, Florida, gushed with praise for the president’s efforts on cleaner water and fighting pollution such as red tide.

As he was about to leave the stage in the East Room, Mr. Hrobak suddenly grabbed the microphone again.

“I want to say one final thing — God bless America, and God bless our President Trump! Trump 2020!” he shouted with a raised arm.

Even Mr. Trump, who enjoys a compliment as much as anyone, seemed surprised by the passion of his guest.

“Wow — that was unexpected,” Mr. Trump said with a smile. “That’s better than any speechwriter I could get.”

Mr. Trump held the event to call attention to his environmental agenda, which he said is accomplishing the twin goals of protecting the environment while fostering economic growth.

“For years, politicians told Americans that a strong economy and a vibrant energy sector were incompatible with a healthy environment,” the president said. “And that’s wrong, because we’re proving the exact opposite. A strong economy is vital to maintaining a healthy environment.”

He said the Obama administration “waged a relentless war on American energy,” including by joining of the Paris climate accord.

“They sought to punish our workers, our producers and manufacturers with ineffective global agreements that allowed the world’s worst polluting countries to continue their practices,” Mr. Trump said. “These radical plans would not make the world cleaner, they would just put Americans out of work.”

He said under his leadership, harmful emissions are projected to drop in 2019 and 2020 in the U.S.

“We’re doing a very tough job and not everybody knows it,” Mr. Trump said. “And that’s one of the reasons we’re here today to speak to you.”

Mr. Trump gets low marks from the public on the environment. In an ABC News/Washington Post survey last week, only 29% of Americans approved of the president’s handling of climate change, while 62% disapproved.

Environmental groups ridiculed Mr. Trump’s event before he started speaking, criticizing the president for rolling back auto emission standards and other environmental regulations.

Donald Trump is resorting to greenhouse-gaslighting the public to try and cover up the fact that he is the worst president in history for the environment, climate and public health,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “Trump’s relentless attacks on our clean air, clean water, climate and public lands threaten the health and safety of millions of Americans and no speech he gives can ever change the reality of his actions.”

Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, a top challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, tweeted that Mr. Trump was ignoring the evidence of climate change on a day when Washington was hit with torrential rain.

“DC is flooded. It was 90 degrees in Alaska last week,” Mr. Sanders tweeted. “Sea ice has shrunk to record lows in Antarctica. June was the hottest month ever recorded. And today Trump is ‘touting’ his environmental record. We don’t have time for more lies. We must address the climate crisis now.”

Mr. Trump at the White House took pains to contrast his approach with the Green New Deal, a far-reaching — and expensive — congressional Democratic plan for tackling climate change and reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Mr. Trump has warned that the Green New Deal could cost the U.S. economy as much as $100 trillion.

“While we’re focused on practical solutions, more than 100 Democrats in Congress now support the so-called Green New Deal,” Mr. Trump said. “It’ll crush the dreams of the poorest Americans and disproportionately harm minority communities. I will not stand for it.”

Polls show that climate change is most important to liberal Democrats, raising questions among some in the White House about why Mr. Trump was devoting a speech to the issue. A Pew Research Center survey in January found that climate change ranked 17th out of voters’ top 18 issues; only global trade was less of a concern to voters.

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Mary B. Neumayr said that during one of the president’s recent meetings with advisers, Mr. Trump “wanted to highlight some of the environmental actions that his administration is taking to advance environmental protection as our economy has continued to grow.”

“Previous administrations pursued a number of overreaching and costly regulations that put American jobs at risk,” she told reporters.

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