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Sparks

What Were Trump’s ‘Environmental Numbers,’ Actually?

Trump claimed “I had the best environmental numbers ever” at the presidential debate. He doesn’t.

Donald Trump.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump has been known, on occasion, to exaggerate. Still, an assertion he made during the first presidential debate on Thursday night is one for the books: “During my four years, I had the best environmental numbers ever,” he said.

It was “unclear” what Trump was “talking about,” The New York Timesdiplomatically said. But Thursday was hardly the first time Trump has claimed to be “the number one” environmentalist president. He’s said that the “environment is very important to me” and that “I’m a big believer in that word: the environment.” And for proof, he’s historically pointed to a book written by a longtime Trump Organization staffer that called him “An Environmental Hero” as well as the fact that “I did the best environmental impact statements.”

Trump’s actions tell a different story. Despite insisting on Thursday that he wants “absolutely immaculate clean water and … absolutely clean air,” Trump’s Project 2025 roadmap for a second term describes targeting California’s Clean Air Act waiver, reducing fuel economy requirements, and making it harder to keep big polluters in check. Trump’s presidential record also speaks for itself: During his four years in office, he rolled back 100 environmental rules or more, including removing pollution controls on streams and wetlands and gutting Obama-era emission standards. According to one estimate in the esteemed British medical journal The Lancet, Trump’s environmental policies resulted in 22,000 deaths in 2019 alone. He’s been described as the worst president for the environment in U.S. history.

President Biden put it even more succinctly in his rebuttal: Trump has “not done a damn thing for the environment.”

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Jeva Lange profile image

Jeva Lange

Jeva is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Her writing has also appeared in The Week, where she formerly served as executive editor and culture critic, as well as in The New York Daily News, Vice, and Gothamist, among others. Jeva lives in New York City.

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