By Sandy K. Johnson

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, says there is a glass-half-full element to the Trump administration’s assault on a half century of environmental policy.

“We haven’t seen climate in the news like we have since the president withdrew from the Paris accord – ever,” Krupp told National Press Foundation fellows. The public supports staying in the international climate agreement by a 2-to-1 margin, he said.

Krupp said environment activists are engaged and acting to counter President Donald Trump’s efforts to dismantle environmental rules and slash the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“EPA is operating at the lowest level in real dollars in its history since Nixon created it,” Krupp said, noting Trump has proposed a 31 percent cut to the EPA budget. “You’re not going to balance the budget on the EPA, which is 0.2 percent of the federal budget.”

He said there are encouraging signs at the state and international level. Canada, France and even China are pledging to take a leadership role on climate change. California, Illinois and North Carolina are taking steps on carbon emissions, clean energy, and renewable energy, respectively.

“If I am right that we are rebuilding the grass roots movement that led to all those laws being passed in the 1970s, then make that visible,” he said. “That’s the story that needs to be written. I see it happening every day.”

Krupp predicted health will be a major driver of people’s environmental concerns. “We’re increasingly able to associate air pollution with asthma attacks and heart attacks. As we map in more fine detail what air quality is, I think people will demand cleaner air, cleaner water from their elected officials,” he said.

To that end, the Environmental Defense Fund partnered with Google Earth to map air pollution levels to 100-foot increments West Oakland, a neighborhood in California.