Trump Will Speak Monday on ‘America’s Environmental Leadership.’ Critics Say It Will be Surreal.

WASHINGTON — President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the international Paris climate change accord, sought to roll back or weaken over 80 environmental regulations and is seen “around the world as a Darth Vader-like figure,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who has specialized in books about environmental policy.

But Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech billed as “America’s Environmental Leadership.” He will be flanked by his two senior environmental officials — one a former lobbyist for the coal industry and the other who once worked for big oil.

Short of announcing a 180-degree policy pivot, it is unclear what Mr. Trump’s argument will be or why he would be giving it now. But the idea for the speech did not start with the president: It started with consultants on his re-election campaign who have discovered that his environmental record was a definite turnoff to two key demographics — millennials and suburban women, according to two people familiar with the plans.

In an administration that has often had a muddled approach to policy, both Mr. Trump’s allies and enemies agree that in launching the rollback of environmental rules he has clearly delivered on his campaign promises. And in his speech, he is expected to tout that rollback as part of what administration officials say is a common-sense approach to the environment that could appeal to at least some of the voters unhappy with his record.

As part of that approach, Mr. Trump is expected to deliver a “center-right” speech, according to one White House official, and criticize policy proposals put forth by Democrats — especially the Green New Deal proposed by Democrats in Congress — that he will try to paint as aggressive and unreasonable.

Mr. Trump’s most notable efforts to weaken environmental protections have been on climate change, which many environmental scientists and policy experts call the defining threat to humanity of the twenty-first century. Mr. Trump has publicly mocked the established science of human-caused climate change.

And he has proudly sold himself as a champion of the coal industry — even as emissions from burning coal remain one of the chief causes of global warming.

A senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to not disclose internal discussions and who had reviewed internal campaign polling, said that the numbers showed Mr. Trump was “never going to get” the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change.

But, the official said, there were moderate voters who like the president’s economic policies who “just want to know that he’s being responsible” on environmental issues. And that is who the speech will be aimed at convincing.

Mr. Trump is expected to give remarks in the East Room of the White House. He will be joined by Andrew Wheeler, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator and former coal lobbyist, who has played a lead role in crafting rollbacks of rules on climate change and clean air, and David Bernhardt, the secretary of Interior and former oil lobbyist, who has led the way in opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to more drilling.

The incongruous message of environmental preservation is so starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own record, experts say, that the moment already smacks of the surreal.

“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters,” said Mr. Brinkley.

Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, said he has presented Republican lawmakers with data in recent weeks that shows that the public — and particularly younger people — want to see action to safeguard the environment, but that the issue is seen as owned by Democrats.

“It is still not a top five priority” among Republicans, Mr. Luntz said. “These guys, they really do care, but they don’t know how to get it done in this polarized environment.”


more recommended stories

  • 2020 Won’t Repeat the Mistakes of 2016, Whatever They Were

    WASHINGTON — Democrats still don’t agree.

  • On Politics: House Kills Impeachment Resolution

    • The National Republican Congressional Committee.

  • At North Carolina Rally, Trump Bets on Divisive Attacks as Way to Bolster Re-election Bid

    “Big Rally tonight in Greenville, North.

  • House Passes Intelligence Bill That Would Expand Secrecy Around Operatives

    WASHINGTON — The House passed a.

  • Trump and Epstein Partied and Commented on Women in 1992 Video

    WASHINGTON — President Trump has been.

  • 5 Ways John Paul Stevens Made a Mark on the Supreme Court

    WASHINGTON — Justice John Paul Stevens,.

  • With Name-Calling and Twitter Battles, House Republican Campaign Arm Copies Trump’s Playbook

    “I hope the lesson the N.R.C.C..

  • Top Myanmar Generals Are Barred From Entering U.S. Over Rohingya Killings

    BANGKOK — The United States has.

  • Iran Rejects Pompeo’s Suggestion It Is Willing to Negotiate Over Missile Program

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike.

  • Trump’s New Top Labor Official Is Expected to Advance an Anti-Labor Agenda

    Congressional Republicans, members of their staffs.

  • Roger Stone Is Barred From Social Media After Posts Attacking Russia Inquiry

    WASHINGTON — A federal judge on.

  • North Korea Warns U.S. to Quit Military Drills With South Korea

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea.

  • The Painful Roots of Trump’s ‘Go Back’ Comment

    It was there in 1882, when.

  • Democratic Fund-Raising: In a Packed Field, Five Candidates Stand Out

    Contributions From Individual Donors The bigger.

  • Pence’s Border Trip Illustrates Conflicting Messages About Detained Migrants

    Although many people were appalled by.

  • Trump Sends Negotiators to Geneva for Nuclear Talks With Russians and Also Seeks to Limit Chinese Warheads

    WASHINGTON — President Trump is sending.

  • E.P.A. Broke Rules in Shake-Up of Science Panels, Federal Watchdog Says

    Want climate news in your inbox?.

  • Joe Biden’s Health Care Plan Focuses on Shoring Up the Affordable Care Act

    After remaining vague for months about.

  • Huge Turnout Is Expected in 2020. So Which Party Would Benefit?

    The opportunity for Democrats, however small,.

  • On Politics: Trump Tells Congresswomen to ‘Go Back’ to Their Countries

    Good Monday morning. Here are some.

  • The Power Went Out. Where Was de Blasio?

    He was in rural Iowa, illustrating.

  • When Big Tobacco Invoked Eric Garner to Fight a Menthol Cigarette Ban

    In an interview in the sanctuary.

  • Trump Backs Away From Barriers on Foreign Uranium

    WASHINGTON — President Trump said he.

  • Joe Biden Decides He Doesn’t Need to Stay Above the Fray After All

    ATKINSON, N.H. — Joseph R. Biden.

  • Pence Tours Border Facilities – Video

    Channels & Shows Home Search U.S..

  • Man Attacking ICE Detention Center Is Fatally Shot by the Police

    The police fatally shot a man.

  • Pence Defends Conditions at Migrant Detention Centers in Texas

    Vice President Mike Pence played down.

  • Top Ocasio-Cortez Aide Becomes a Symbol of Democratic Division

    WASHINGTON — House Democratic leaders, their.

  • Parties Face ‘Crackup’ as Outsiders Wield Social Media Against the Establishment

    WASHINGTON — On the night that.

  • New Details on Family Separations Fuel Emotional Hearing

    WASHINGTON — At least 18 infants.

  • One Candidate In, One Candidate Out: This Week in the 2020 Race

    Every Saturday morning, we’re publishing “This.

  • A White House Correspondent Departs the Jaw-Dropping Trump Beat

    To judge by Thursday’s events, Mr..