"The previous administration devalued workers by their policies," the [White House official briefed on the plan] said. "We are saying we can do both. We can protect the environment and provide people with work."The White House official went on to argue that the best way to protect the environment is to have a strong economy, noting that countries like India and China do less to protect the environment."To the extent that the economy is strong and growing and you have prosperity, that is the best way to protect the environment," the official said.
- allow the White House official his/her rhetoric that Obama hates people (since workers are people and you only devalue things that you hate) (and by implication, Trump loves people);
- ignore the fact that the U.S. economy was basically at full employment with Obama environmental policies at Trump's January inauguration (people had work); and
- assume that the Trump budget cuts to the EPA are designed to protect the environment.
Once we've gotten past that (and I really haven't) we can examine the environmental policy being adopted by the Trump administration. And, it turns out that the Trump administration is adopting the Environmental Kuznets Curve as its environmental policy. From Krishna Paudel (pp. 134-135):
As an economy transforms from agrarian-based to industrial-based, the increased concentration of industry causes more pollution. As an economy grows further, the service industry becomes the mainstay, international trade and pollution havens become more prominent, diminishing returns prevail, and more efficient pollution reduction techniques are used in the production process. ...
The body of literature on EKCs suggests that a naïve belief that growth will take care of environmental problems should be questioned. Stock pollutants result in cases of irreversible and sometimes catastrophic impact on the environment. In such cases, one may even see a degenerative EKC. Even if growth can address environmental problems, the cost can be significant if the time frame for abatement adoption is too slow. One also needs to consider the intergenerational welfare implications in choosing the optimal abatement time and policy.
So, the Trump administration considers the U.S. economy to be in its developing stage and ignoring the research on stock pollutants (like climate) and intergenerational welfare.
A more modern economy faces a tradeoff between environmental quality and economic activity. If people value the environment, then they are willing to accept a loss of economic activity in order to gain more environmental quality. But, the Trump Administration, led by the guys in the Freedom Caucus (yep, the same guys), are placing zero value on the environment.