08:58 PM

For Immediate Release

Trump’s SOTU Promises Will Lead to Further Rollbacks of Environmental Laws

WASHINGTON (January 31, 2018) – President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address reinforced his commitment to building an ecologically and socially catastrophic, ineffective and offensive wall along the U.S. – Mexico border and forging ahead on an infrastructure proposal that will likely include plans to sell out federal lands and roll back environmental protections for the sake of developers. Both these plans will weaken the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Protection Act ignoring important environmental protections that Americans want and deserve.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:

“This State of the Union address leaves no doubt that President Trump is doubling down on his reckless and irresponsible attacks on wildlife and border communities. President Trump should be protecting and restoring our natural and cultural heritage, not tearing it down or selling it out to corporate interests. We’ll be fighting for our lands, waters and wildlife in court and in the halls of Congress, with the support of millions of Americans who refuse to sit by and watch as this administration tries to bulldoze our nation’s conservation legacy.”



  • Trump’s infrastructure proposal is out of touch with America. Recent public polling by Hart Research on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for American Progress found that 94 percent of American voters reject the proposition that we should reduce protections for air, water, wildlife and natural places to improve our nation’s infrastructure. Voters also disagree with President Trump’s repeated false claims that current environmental protections must be sacrificed to speed infrastructure projects.
  • According to the leaked proposal in the Washington Post, President Trump is aiming for his cabinet to be able to unilaterally sidestep public health, and environmental protections to benefit developers.
  • While the specifics of attacks on the Endangered Species Act are still in flux, it seems clear that the administration has wildlife in the crosshairs.

Border Wall

  • An impenetrable border wall would bisect and isolate important Southwestern landscapes, pushing borderland wildlife like jaguars, Mexican gray wolves and ocelots to the brink of extinction.
  • In California, border barriers already in place affect more than a dozen endangered and rare species, including the endangered Arroyo toad and Quino checkerspot butterfly.
  • In Arizona, the border wall would significantly impact the Sonoran Desert, home to endangered Sonoran pronghorn; cactus ferruginous pygmy owls and desert tortoises; and the world-renowned Sky Islands, so named for the “islands” of forested habitat rising out of a “sea” of surrounding desert and grasslands.
  • The border wall would also threaten important wildlife habitats in the New Mexico’s ‘boot heel,’ a mosaic of public and private lands largely managed for conservation. There are also expansive U.S. Forest Service lands in the state that are critical for jaguar movement between the U.S. and Mexico.
  • Section 102 of the 2005 REAL ID Act gave the Secretary of Homeland Security unprecedented power to waive any federal, state, or local law to construct roads and barriers along the border. This waiver has already been invoked five times to exempt the department from more than 35 environmental laws to construct roads and barriers along the Southwest border, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Antiquities Act and National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.