Anglers go to the water because they need to. Our lives are composed knee-deep in lakes, rivers and the sea. We all have our favorites: steelhead chasing a swung fly; permit cruising the flats; wild brookies in tiny mountain creeks; pike slashing out of weedy shallows; brown trout, tight to a grassy bank, deliberately sipping a beetle after refusing a dun.
Pursuing fish means measuring the season by hatches, runs and migrations rather than by the calendar. Anglers witness the intricacies of their waters and understand what it takes for these incredible ecosystems to thrive. They see firsthand what’s lost when they are allowed to collapse and recognize that it is up to those of us who love these beautiful places to protect them. Sometimes, this demands looking up from the water and speaking out for what is right. This November is one of those times.
Politics is a nauseating enterprise in America, but this year there is no choice but to get involved. Our home waters cannot survive four more years of Donald Trump’s ransacking, polluting agenda. His relentless assault on our wild places, clean water and climate must be stopped.
Trump’s record presents an appalling list of reasons to vote against him. As anglers, we know that healthy watersheds and functioning ecosystems are among the greatest gifts we can give our children and the subsequent generations of humanity to follow. We are voting for their sake in November.
This disaster must finally be off the table. Anglers know that Bristol Bay’s salmon must be protected at all costs. The president has received accolades for his sudden change of heart on this terrible project, a common-sense perspective shared by everyone except the feckless executives at Northern Dynasty Minerals and their lapdogs in the Alaska State government and the US Congress.
The Trump administration has only paused the project for 90 days. It is a transparent attempt to earn goodwill during an election year. The Obama administration had stopped the misguided project dead. The only reason we are even talking about it now is that Trump resurrected it. He can’t be trusted to do what is right for Bristol Bay. There would be no reason for Trump not to approve the mine during a second term. In stark contrast, Joe Biden has stated unequivocally that the Pebble Mine is finished if he is elected.
The Trump administration has already opened up millions of acres of public lands for new drilling and extraction. It has illegally shrunk the Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly half and has opened the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.
Trump’s former Secretary of the Interior appointee, Ryan Zinke, lifted protections on millions of acres of western sagebrush lands, opening these delicate areas to oil, gas and mining companies. He did the same to massive sections of California’s protected deserts. Last fall, Trump requested that the Forest Service exempt Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule, a move that could open the world’s largest temperate rainforest to more widespread logging and energy development.
What else would be sold during a second Trump term? Trump has shown has no understanding of the value of biodiversity, ecological connectivity, outdoor recreation and its economic benefits, or climate change mitigation provided by our public lands. He, and his industry cronies, don’t recognize the opportunity for these vast lands to protect and restore some of what was taken from America’s Indigenous peoples.
Anglers, environmentalists, hunters, hikers, climbers and everyone who loves our shared wild places need a president who understands the true worth of our public lands, not one who is drooling at the prospect of auctioning them off. Americans need a president who sees protecting our public lands as an expression of patriotism. Or, at the very least, we deserve a president who can at least pronounce Yosemite correctly.
Healthy fisheries and communities depend on clean water. Much like with the Pebble Mine, the only reason we are now fighting a proposed copper mine in northern Minnesota is because Trump resurrected the project after the Obama administration decided not to renew the foreign-owned mining leases and instead directed the government to study intently whether the potential for 500 years of toxic pollution from the mine was too much of a risk to the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness watersheds.
Trump’s administration recently refused to breach the four Lower Snake River Dams, a move the Army Corp of Engineers acknowledges is the most critical step to preventing salmon and steelhead in the Columbia–Snake River Basin from continuing to slide toward extinction.
In June, Trump gutted the Waters of the United States rule, a regulation put into effect to support and expand the Clean Water Act. In a devastating blow, the new regulations remove critical pollution protections for millions of miles of streams, wetlands and groundwater. This shouldn’t even need to be said aloud, but America needs a president who will enforce the goddamned Clean Water Act.
All along our coasts, anglers have watched the Trump administration threaten ocean habitats and fisheries. Trump lifted fishing protections from the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, a 4,900-square-mile section of the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast. While fish populations struggle for recovery in the Atlantic, Trump opted to allow commercial fishing into one of our most important ocean sanctuaries.
In an executive order issued in May, Trump started a process to open all federal coastal waters to expanded fish-farming operations. Previously, Trump had lifted oil-drilling bans for 125 million acres of the Arctic Ocean put in place by the Obama administration. He has gone on to propose opening 98 percent of federal waters, up and down the East and West Coasts, to offshore drilling.
As part of its profound commitment to making it easier for corporations to pollute American lands, water, air and cities, the Trump administration has pursued an unprecedented war on environmental regulations and standards, rolling back more than 68 environmental, land and water protections with 32 others in progress and many more planned.
These rollbacks allowed more pollution from vehicle tailpipes and mercury from coal-burning power plants. They eliminated required reporting of methane emissions for oil and gas companies and changed how refineries monitor pollution in surrounding communities. They allowed more air pollution in national parks and more leaking and venting of hydrofluorocarbons from refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. The administration withdrew guidelines for federal agencies to include greenhouse gas pollution in environmental reviews and postponed a rule limiting greenhouse gas pollution from airplanes. They relaxed rules intended to protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure and approved construction of the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL pipelines. The grim list goes on and on. Anglers, and all Americans, must stop this wholesale assault on our clean water, air and land.
This administration has been a nightmare for the world’s effort to finally respond to the climate crisis. Trump has called it a “hoax,” abandoned our commitments to the Paris Accord and protected the fossil fuel industry at every opportunity. As anglers, we know the threat climate change poses for our fisheries and waters. Snowpacks and glaciers are receding, higher temperatures heat the water to dangerous levels and support deadly algal blooms, forest fires rage out of control, and the ocean’s food chain is disrupted as waters acidify.
Climate change is accelerating, and the Trump administration only works to speed its progress. One of the very best reasons to vote for Joe Biden is his team's comprehensive plan to fight climate change. The plan seeks to clean the electric grid by 2035 and move the country to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050. It would invest trillions of dollars in clean energy deployment, research and development, and electric vehicle adoption. The plan has guidelines for new energy efficiency standards, decarbonizing industrial processes, a smart grid and regenerative agriculture. It directs government infrastructure spending to account for climate impacts and makes large investments in an ambitious list of other required technologies.
Biden’s plan recognizes that now is the time to face this crisis and meet it with the urgency and scale required. We simply cannot allow Donald Trump to hold back progress any longer. Four more years of his climate denial and irresponsibility is unthinkable and would have impacts that last centuries.
Green Jobs for the Future
Trump brags about running the country like he ran his businesses. Unfortunately for us, that’s exactly what he’s done. His endless gifts to polluters, tax breaks for the wealthy and reprehensible response to COVID-19 has ruined the economy for millions of Americans and literally killed more than 200,000 people. Biden’s plan to rebuild the shattered economy is a green recovery wisely built around the necessary fight against climate change. Transitioning our energy system to zero-carbon energy and transportation, and repairing and building the infrastructure required to meet the climate crisis head-on, could mobilize the American workforce for decades.
Biden’s commitments to expand protected public lands, stop Pebble Mine and reestablish pollution regulations means the diverse economy built around outdoor recreation, sustainable fishing and regenerative agriculture will thrive. Outdoor recreation employs and supports millions of Americans and provides crucial economic activity for rural communities and many businesses. Anglers know these jobs don’t exist if the land, water and air are polluted and the fish are gone.
Anglers Need to Vote
This November, the stakes of America’s presidential election couldn’t be higher. Anglers and those of us who want to see our public lands protected, clean air and water prioritized and climate change addressed need to send Donald Trump, and his despicable agenda, packing.
Please make sure you are registered to vote. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 but squeaked by with an Electoral College victory on the back of slim margins in a few key states. Many of these states are now in contention, but anglers must have their voice heard. Talk to your friends, family and fellow anglers about the election and its environmental consequences, especially if they are undecided, don’t usually vote or voted for Trump last time. When Trump is finally out of office, we will all deserve a deep sigh of relief before we get to work repairing the damage he has caused. Anglers will need to be ready to demand the next administration keep its promises to fight climate change, build a green recovery and protect our public lands and waters. That said, it probably wouldn’t hurt to spend a day fishing your favorite piece of public water.
For a full list of Trump administration rollbacks and deregulation, head to our interactive info-graphic, Tracking Trump's Deregulation: 2017-2020.