The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in North Dakota

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Just in the past three years, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back at least 95 environmental rules and regulations to the detriment of the environment and Americans’ public health. Moreover, the administration refuses to act to mitigate the effects of climate change—instead loosening requirements for polluters emitting the greenhouse gases that fuel the climate crisis. This dangerous agenda is affecting the lives of Americans across all 50 states.

Between 2017 and 2019, North Dakota experienced one severe flood and one intense drought. The damages of these events led to losses of at least $1 billion.

Impacts of climate change

Extreme weather

Temperature

  • North Dakota currently averages 10 heat wave days per year, but projections indicate that number will increase fivefold to nearly 50 days per year by 2050. This endangers the lives of the approximately 20,000 people living in North Dakota who are especially vulnerable to extreme heat.
  • Fargo, North Dakota, is the 10th fastest-warming city in the United States.

Impacts of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies

Climate

  • In March 2020, the Trump administration announced its final rule to overturn Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars. These weakened fuel standards will lead to higher greenhouse gas and particulate matter emissions and will cost North Dakota residents $74.8 million
  • In August 2019, the Trump administration proposed eliminating federal requirements for oil and gas companies to control leaks of methane from new wells, storage facilities, and pipelines. In 2016, researchers found that the Bakken region in Montana and North Dakota, a significant oil and gas producing area, emits 275,000 tons of methane per year. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is responsible for one-quarter of greenhouse gas-driven global warming.
  • The Trump administration is attempting to gut climate considerations from major infrastructure projects by eliminating the “cumulative impact” requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act. This is concerning because North Dakota’s economy relies heavily on its agriculture, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries—all of which are highly dependent on climate and weather conditions.

Air quality

  • Mercury emissions in North Dakota decreased by nearly 55 percent from 2011 to 2017, yet the Trump administration just undermined limits on the amount of mercury and other toxic emissions that are allowed from power plants.

Water quality

  • On the fourth day of Trump’s presidency, the administration issued an executive order advancing the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. In June 2017, the pipelines were fully functional and over the next year saw more than one dozen small spills. In March 2019, more than 9,000 barrels of crude oil had spilled in North Dakota alone, which caused immediate impacts on nearby wetlands.

To read the personal stories of Americans affected by climate change and the impacts of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies in your state, visit OurEnvironment.org