It’s no secret climate change doesn’t weigh heavily on the mind of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He has called global warming “a total, and very expensive, hoax” and said flat-out, “I’m not a believer in man-made global warming.”
The people he’s chosen to lead his transition efforts — as well as those said to be in line for top posts in a Trump administration — reflect his refusal to acknowledge widespread scientific fact regarding the very real existence of climate change and the urgent need to address it.
The latest member of this distinguished group: Myron Ebell.
Ebell, dubbed “one of America’s most prominent climate change skeptics” by the Financial Times, has been tapped to lead Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition, sources close to the campaign told E&E.
Head of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Ebell also chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which seeks to “question global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies.”
Ebell is opposed to both President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the landmark Paris climate agreement, telling Federalist Radio of the latter, “I don’t want to say it’s a disaster, but I think it is potentially a disaster for humankind and not necessarily any good for the planet.”
The “little bit of warming” Earth has experienced, and whether or not it’s the result of human activity, is “nothing to worry about,” Ebell told Vanity Fair in 2007.
“I’m not a climate scientist. I’m just giving you the informed layman’s perspective,” he continued. “If science is going to be discussed in the public arena, then shouldn’t people other than scientists be allowed to participate? Isn’t that what a representative democracy is?” (Reminder: 97 percent of actual climate scientists say global warming is real and human activity is the main driving force.)
In the early 2000s, the George W. Bush administration came under fire after an investigation revealed efforts to downplay its own findings regarding the severity of global warming. Officials sought “the help of conservative lobby groups funded by the oil industry to attack U.S. government scientists if they produce work seen as accepting too readily that pollution is an issue,” the Guardian reported at the time. This included none other than Myron Ebell, whose email to Phil Cooney, then chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was obtained in the investigation.
The email, dated 3 June 2002, reveals how White House officials wanted the CEI’s help to play down the impact of a report last summer by the government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in which the US admitted for the first time that humans are contributing to global warming. ‘Thanks for calling and asking for our help,’ Ebell tells Cooney.
The email discusses possible tactics for playing down the report and getting rid of EPA officials, including its then head, Christine Whitman. ‘It seems to me that the folks at the EPA are the obvious fall guys and we would only hope that the fall guy (or gal) should be as high up as possible,’ Ebell wrote in the email. ‘Perhaps tomorrow we will call for Whitman to be fired,’ he added.
The addition of Ebell to the transition team is further proof that Trump would seek to undo any recent achievements to address the threat of climate change once elected.
His latest economic policy proposal vows to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, along with key EPA standards designed to protect Americans’ access to clean air and water. In a recent speech, he pledged to open up federal lands and new offshore areas to oil and gas production.
Trump’s campaign has indicated it would appoint Forrest Lucas, an oil executive, Secretary of the Interior — responsible for protecting the country’s national parks and public lands. Harold Hamm, another oil and gas executive, is said to be under consideration for Energy Secretary.