Trump to Ocean: 'Drop Dead!' The President has shown a callous disregard for the public seas.

AuthorHelvarg, David
PositionPresident Donald Trump - Essay

This is not the policy paper it sounds like. Rather, it's a $24 million upscale catering hall and restaurant he proposed building at New York's Jones Beach State Park in 2006, at one point suing the state, unsuccessfully, over approval delays. The idea was abandoned after Hurricane Sandy blasted the area in 2012, turning the construction site into a saltwater sinkhole.

As a developer, Trump has appreciated the ocean as a backdrop for his hotels, golf courses, resorts, and casinos from Palos Verdes, California, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, Panama to Scotland, and of course, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. There, according to sources close to the situation, he stiffed an environmental consultant out of tens of thousands of dollars after being given a report stating it would be illegal for him to dump sand or gravel on top of three small coral reefs just offshore.

Trump has also had problems with wind turbines off his Scottish golf resort; his company had to pay $290,000 in legal fees to the government of Scotland, which he had sued. He was met with community resistance in Palos Verdes (where he sued the local school district). And his sail-shaped "Ocean Club" hotel in Panama was allegedly used by drug cartels and Russian organized crime to launder money.

While being on record as not liking boats or water sports (and being terrified of sharks, who he hoped would all die, according to Stormy Daniels), Trump in 1988 nonetheless bought a 282-foot yacht for $29 million from the Sultan of Brunei and refurbished it as the Trump Princess for almost $10 million. Three years later, as his Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, he sold it to a Saudi prince for $19 million, for a quick loss of almost $20 million.

It's hard to say if Trump resents the ocean (it has bigger name recognition) but he clearly does not regard it with any wonder or respect. Since becoming President, he has revoked President Obama's National Ocean Policy, attempted to open up 90 percent of U.S. coastal waters to oil and gas drilling, given companies permission to harass or kill whales while surveying for oil and gas, and pursued changes in environmental laws that threaten coastal waters and seafood.

Trump, it's true, has also signed two bipartisan bills into law that are considered ocean friendly: a plastic pollution bill in October 2018 and the Great American Outdoors Act in August 2020. But both come with caveats.

The plastics bill, reauthorizing an existing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program on marine debris, was used by Environmental Protection...

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