Trump eyes cutting Interior, ‘environment agencies’

By Timothy Cama | 06/03/2024 01:20 PM EDT

The former president also mocked action against climate change during an interview.

Donald Trump.

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump during a rally in the Bronx borough of New York City last month. Yuki Iwamura/AP

Former President Donald Trump said he wants to cut the Interior Department if he returns to the White House, and indicated “environmental agencies” more broadly are also on the chopping block.

Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee to run against President Joe Biden in November, revealed the plans in an interview with Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that aired Sunday, when talking about wasteful government programs he’d slash.

“We’re going to do, like, Department of Interior,” he told host Rachel Campos-Duffy, without expanding on his plans for the department that oversees energy production on federal land, among other responsibilities.


“There’s so many things you can do,” he continued. “One of the things that is so bad for us is the environmental agencies. They make it impossible to do anything,” Trump said, going on to boast that he approved a liquefied natural gas export terminal in 24 hours after a company spent 14 years working on it.

“The environmental agencies have stopped — they’ve stopped you from doing business in this country. And we did a great job,” he said.

Asked to clarify Trump’s plans, spokesperson Karoline Leavitt contrasted the candidates’ energy records.

“No one has done more damage to the American oil and gas industry than Joe Biden, who is controlled by the radical environmental extremists in his Administration, shut down the Keystone Pipeline on day one, restricted federal drilling permits, and continues to add burdensome regulations that do nothing but get in the way of production,” she said in a statement.

“President Trump made America a net exporter of energy for the first time because he cut red tape and gave the industry more freedom to do what they do best — utilize the liquid gold under our feet to produce clean energy for America and the world — and he will do that again as soon as he gets back to the White House.”

Oil and natural gas production and exports have continued to grow throughout Biden’s time in office, and continue to break records. The United States is the top producer of both oil and gas in the world.

Trump also said he would eliminate most of the Department of Education, “other than to have a little, tiny coordination.”

The president does not have the authority to unilaterally eliminate most federal agencies, including the Interior Department and EPA. Since Congress created them or ratified their creation, only lawmakers can scrap or significantly reorganize them.

Because it oversees mineral leasing on federal land and offshore, Interior is one of the largest non-tax revenue sources for the federal government.

In his 2016 presidential bid, Trump promised that he would “get rid of” EPA “in almost every form” and leave only “little tidbits.”

After winning the 2016 election, he asked Scott Pruitt, who became his first EPA administrator, whether to “shut down the agency,” Pruitt later recalled in a 2021 speech.

Pruitt advocated for not eliminating it, though Trump’s budget proposals sought to cut the agency’s funding by as much as 31 percent.

Later in the “Fox & Friends” interview, Trump mocked concerns about climate change, as well as Biden for calling the climate threat “existential.”

He got to the topic by arguing that illegal immigration is one of the nation’s biggest threats, behind nuclear weapons, but “not global warming.”

“When they say that the seas will rise over the next 400 years — one-eighth of an inch, you know. Which means, basically you have a little more beachfront property, OK,” he joked, and asked “who knows” whether seas will rise.

NOAA expects sea levels along U.S. coastlines to rise an average of 10 to 12 inches within the next three decades due to climate change caused by human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. The levels are expected to vary regionally and depend on future emissions levels.

“I watched Biden the other night. ‘It’s the biggest, existential’ — he loves that word, because it’s a big word and he thinks it — he doesn’t even know what the hell the word means. He goes, ‘It’s the greatest existential threat to our country — global warming.’ And in the mean time, you’ve got these maniacs with nuclear weapons that can do damage which I won’t even talk to you about,” Trump said.

Biden has explicitly ranked climate change as a greater threat to humanity than nuclear war, including at a 2023 event in Vietnam.

“The only existential threat humanity faces, even things more frightening than a nuclear war, is global warming,” he said at the time.