We present a few nominees
and their views on the environment:
1. Scott Pruitt—EPA Administrator: His track record includes suing the EPA to (1) stop standards for reducing soot and smog pollution that cross interstate lines, (2) stop protections against emissions of acid gases, mercury, arsenic, and other toxic pollutants from power plants, (3) stop standards to improve air quality in national parks, and (4) dismantle the Clean Power Plan. Since 2002, he has received over $300,000 from the fossil fuel industries. He believes that the “debate” around climate change is “far from settled.”
The EPA is responsible protecting public health and the environment. When Congress passes environmental laws, the EPA supplements these through writing and enforcing regulations. Before being appointed, Pruitt stated: “When you look at EPA, there’s going to be substantial change in that agency, there’s going to be a regulatory rollback.” Myron Ebell, another climate denier, is head of the EPA’s transition team.
2. Rex Tillerson—Secretary of State: He is the current chairman of ExxonMobil, where he has been for over 41 years, developing a close alliance with the Russian government. In 2011, he signed an agreement giving Exxon access to a large underwater portion of Russia’s piece of the Arctic, in return for giving Russia’s state-owned oil company (OAO Rosneft) an opportunity to invest in Exxon’s overseas operations. Although Tillerson has stated that carbon dioxide does affect climate change and will have some impact on the atmosphere, he states he does not know how large of a warming impact it will have. Yet, ExxonMobil knew about climate change since 1981, when it was exploring a gas field in Indonesia that was composed of 70% carbon dioxide. Since then, Exxon has spent over $30,000,000 on think-tanks and research that promotes anti-science rhetoric and climate change denial.
Some responsibilities of the Secretary of State include: (1) leading the US international climate effort, such as attending international climate talks and drafting plans to cut carbon pollution, and (2) overseeing international aid through the US Agency for International Development—a department that currently spends 40% of its climate budget on funding adaptation projects.
3. Steve Bannon—Senior Counselor to the President: Bannon created Breitbart News, a website that posts articles that manipulate proven scientific data to claim climate change is a hoax. The Weather Channel issued a video denouncing the website from falsely citing them. Although fossil fuel subsidies are four times more than in renewable energy (around $500 billion), Bannon has a never-ending list of statements against alternative energy, global warming, and climate change science.
4. Rick Perry—Secretary of Energy: While running for presidential office, he stated he would eliminate the Department of Energy if elected. During his two campaigns for president, he received over $11,400,000 from the oil and gas industry. He has proudly stated that climate change is fake and a hoax because a “substantial number of scientists have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.” Nonetheless, Texas has become a leader in wind energy under his governorship, which leaves some signs of optimism.
Some responsibilities of the Secretary of Energy include: (1) leading the department whose mission is to “ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions,” (2) overseeing national laboratories working on climate modeling and energy research, such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and (3) managing policies regarding radioactive waste disposal, domestic energy production, energy conservation, nuclear weapons program, and more energy-related research.
5. Ryan Zinke—Interior Secretary: He is in favor of protecting federal lands, but nonetheless, is a strong supporter and has a long voting record for the expansion of coal, oil, and gas in the US, including supporting the Keystone XL pipeline.
Some responsibilities of the Interior Secretary include: (1) overseeing the management of 500 million acres of federal public lands, including 400 national parks and federal monuments, dams, and reservoirs, and (2) managing programs related to territorial affairs and Native Americans.