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Trump administration acts as new invasive species

By Brittany Reed

The Trump administration recently eliminated two environment-focused federal advisory boards after the signing of an executive order on Friday, Sept. 27. The executive order will continue 30 panels while dropping two – one that concerns the protection of marine life and another, which battles invasive species. 

This action follows an executive order issued on June 14, which declares that each executive department and agency has to terminate at least one-third of its committees by Monday, Sept. 30. I think it’s safe to say that it’s quite unsurprising that the Trump administration chose to slash science and environment-based committees. 

Both the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Federal Advisory Committee and the Interior Department’s Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) have been around for over a decade, and now Americans are wondering what will happen to marine life and invasive species without government funding for these committees. 

“With the current condition of our environment and the growing threat of climate change, it’s crucial that we have environmental protection coalitions in place and funding for those coalitions,” said senior biology major, Gabrielle Langhorn. “Having federal advisory boards to protect the marine and coastal ecosystems is important to everyone’s life.”

According to a study by the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS), science advisory committees have decreased by 20% between 2016 and 2017. Ultimately, the disbandment of these committees pose a threat to the planet because scientific input in the decision making process concerning these environmental problems is slowly being pushed away by our government. 

“I feel as though this growing knowledge of climate change and the actions to prevent it are seen as ‘left wing agenda’, so the Trump administration is trying to do away with these advisory boards to eliminate as much liberal ideology as possible,” said Langhorn.

So what does this mean for the future? Well, without federal advisory boards like these, there may not be a future. 

“I’m sure this will continue the downward trend of our climate–the diminishing of species and general destruction due to human activity. It will expedite what’s already been going on,” said sophomore advertising and public relations major, Kiley Sutela. 

It has been proven by multiple scientists that if the steps to keep our climate healthy aren’t taken, there could be drastic negative impacts on the planet. These committees are what inform politicians and large government groups about what is going on in the environment, and without them, further climate destruction is bound to occur. 

“As the climate changes, we need these advisory boards to protect our planet,” said freshman psychology major, Zane Pulver.

With the increase in worldwide climate change conversation, there may be ways to keep the Trump administration from exterminating further science and environment focused committees. 

“Public opinion is very important in politics, and I think that if the general population of American makes a big deal out of this, which we should, then the Trump administration will be forced to reconsider. Especially considering elections are coming soon,” said Pulver. 

Perhaps an increase in awareness regarding the disbandment of these important environmental federal advisory boards could spark a change and inspire people to take action on what the government is and isn’t doing to the environment. 

The primary purpose of ISAC is to provide information and advice regarding invasive species and the problems they pose. Invasive species are plant or animal species that have negative consequences on the environment. They can cause environmental harm and can impact humans or other species living in an ecosystem. The elimination of this committee could cause potential harm from invasive species being brought to the U.S.

The MPA Federal Advisory Committee advises the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on strategies of managing effective MPAs in U.S. waters. The purposes of these MPAs range from protecting ecosystems to sustaining fisheries production. Basically, they are used to further conservation within marine ecosystems and limit human activity. According to NOAA, there are more than 1,700 MPAs in the United States, and they cover 41% of marine waters.

Overall, it’s important to stay informed and be aware of what the government is doing in regard to the environment around us. “The only thing we can do to stop [the Trump administration] is to vote in the representatives that believe in climate change and want to make it a priority,” said Langhorn. 

We are all citizens of earth, and without citizen action, that citizenship may expire way too soon.

Brittany Reed can be reached at brittany.reed@spartans.ut.edu

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