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Activists say Trump’s environmental boasts just 'utter fantasy'

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump boasted about his administration's environmental record on Monday, saying the US can lead the world in fighting pollution at the same time it is promoting fossil fuels, in a speech green groups derided as "utter fantasy".

Mr Trump, who has dismantled scores of environmental rules and rejected mainstream climate science since taking office, gave the speech as national support grows for strong environmental protection. He said the US was a leader in providing clean drinking water, had slashed air pollution and was cutting carbon emissions while bolstering industry and reducing regulation.

After Mr Trump's speech at the White House, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters that key air pollutants have fallen around 70 per cent since the 1970s, including "under Trump's watch".

EPA data show huge improvements in air quality in recent decades since the imposition of landmark environmental regulations such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. But they also show increases - since Mr Trump took office - in fine particulate matter emissions such as soot and smoke from the combustion of coal and oil.

The US also slipped in the global environmental rankings to No. 27 in 2018 from 26th during the last year of the Obama administration, according to the Environmental Performance Index, a project by Yale and Columbia universities to measure national performance on air, water, forestry and other metrics.

Mr Ken Cook, a spokesman for the Environmental Working Group, called Mr Trump's speech "utter fantasy".

"There has never been a president who has actively pursued an agenda so hostile to the environment and public health at the behest of polluters than Mr Trump," he said.

"It is absurd for President Trump to claim any environmental credentials when his administration continues to drive a destructive pro-polluter agenda at the expense of the American people," said Ms Jill Tauber, vice-president of litigation, climate and energy at Earthjustice, which has filed 120 lawsuits against the administration.

Mr Trump has vowed to pull the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, an international accord to fight global warming through carbon emissions cuts and a transformation of the world economy away from fossil fuels. - REUTERS

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