Voters send lawmakers back to D.C. with a message: Protect the environment from Trump

Threats to environmental protections rile voters in lawmakers’ home districts.

People urge Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to listen to their concerns at town hall meeting on April 13, 2017, in Mesa, Arizona. CREDIT: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
People urge Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to listen to their concerns at town hall meeting on April 13, 2017, in Mesa, Arizona. CREDIT: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The extreme anti-environment policies of President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers are inspiring a growing number of Americans to learn about climate change and join campaigns to fight budget cuts targeting the Environmental Protection Agency and other green programs.

Meanwhile, support for politicians who are making environmental protection and climate action a bigger priority appears to be growing, based on the level of concern demonstrated at town hall meetings.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) met with constituents in the Philadelphia suburbs this week where he blasted Republicans for their willingness to side with Trump’s climate denial position. “Climate change is not a hoax” and “is a problem that is happening right now,” Boyle said, according to a First Digital Media report.

In Arizona, Rep. Andy Biggs (R) held a town hall meeting where he was asked whether he believes in climate change. Biggs, a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, responded that he reads reports from people who believe in climate change as well as those who don’t, the Arizona Republic reported.

“There are credible scientists who say climate change exists; we aren’t sure why,” Biggs said to a hail of boos from constituents angered by his lack of commitment to fighting climate change. “There are credible scientists who say it doesn’t.”


Elsewhere in Arizona, constituents reportedly asked Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) questions about Trump’s actions in office, including his broader agenda on climate change. “Can you please take your job more seriously, Senator? We would appreciate it,” one woman reportedly said, unhappy with Flake’s response to a question about holding Trump accountable.

At Boyle’s public meeting in Pennsylvania, residents asked questions about the debate over climate change. Boyle, who sits on the U.S. House’s bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, lamented how Republicans have focused so much attention on repealing or reversing environmental rules and laws.

Climate change is not an inherent “left-or-right” issue and even the anti-democratic government in China recognizes the need to control climate change, Boyle said, adding that climate denial appears to be unique to the United States.


On Monday, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) was jeered by town hall attendees for their positions on a variety of issues, including the environment. The meeting was co-hosted by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), a member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus.

Heller insisted he is “not a climate denier” but was criticized by audience members for voting to confirm climate skeptic Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

“There is no Republican in D.C. who has done more for clean energy than me,” Heller said in response to the criticism.

Even months ago, when the potential repeal of Obamacare was the top concern at most town hall meetings, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a congressman who introduced a bill to “completely abolish” the EPA, was targeted for his positions on the environment. At the freshman congressman’s first public meeting in February, audience members chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, Matt Gaetz has got to go” and “EPA is here to stay,” the Northwest Florida Daily News reported.

One resident, who described herself as a “conservative independent” who voted for Gaetz, reportedly said she might not vote for him in the future because of her “big concerns” about his anti-EPA bill.