Trump Versus the Planet: The Transition Team’s Environmental Agenda

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 Mark Makela / Getty Images

Environmentalists, land conservationists, and anyone who believes in man-made climate change should be concerned about the incoming Trump administration. The transition teams announced last week seems to signal that the president-elect looks to make good on his climate change skepticism, coal-first energy policy, and push for private development on Federal lands. Here's a closer look at the men in charge of the next administration's environmental policies.

Mike McKenna, Energy

Heading the Department of Energy transition will be Mike McKenna, a beltway lobbyist whose clients include Koch Industries, Dow Chemical, Southern Company Services, and Competitive Power Ventures, Inc. One of his first priorities will likely be to align the DOE with Trump’s stated platform:

Rather than continuing the current path to undermine and block America’s fossil fuel producers, the Trump Administration will encourage the production of these resources by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters. We will streamline the permitting process for all energy projects, including the billions of dollars in projects held up by President Obama, and rescind the job-destroying executive actions under his administration. We will end the war on coal, and rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, the excessive Interior Department stream rule, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration. We will eliminate the highly invasive "Waters of the U.S." rule, and scrap the $5 trillion dollar Obama-Clinton Climate Action Plan and the Clean Power Plan and prevent these unilateral plans from increasing monthly electric bills by double-digits without any measurable effect on Earth’s climate.

If the Trump administration follows through, this means large swaths of Federal lands could be opened to development, over the objections of environmental groups. Wall Street is clearly watching and as result energy stocks rose dramatically in the days following the election.

David Bernhardt, Interior

Driving the transition for the Department of the Interior (DOI) is David Bernhardt, who under George W. Bush’s Presidency was the DOI solicitor — the chief attorney for the department. He was part of the controversial opening up of numerous offshore drilling leases at the end of the Bush era. One of his first issues may be to fulfill Trump’s pledge to lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.

Myron Ebell, Environmental Protection Agency

The most controversial appointment so far is Myron Ebell, who has taken the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency transition team. As one of the world's prominent climate change skeptics (an increasingly rare position), the appointment of Ebell is a clear sign that Trump plans to follow through on his pledge to drastically alter the EPA’s mandate moving forward. Ebell currently serves as the Director of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Even though his background is in economics, he is quick to question any and all science associated with climate change. In fact he seems to revel in it, delighting in pointing out that he has been named to numerous worst-of lists for climate change deniers. Here are some of his more controversial (and, according to all objective data, false) statements made over the years:

  • The Arctic Ice sheets are not thinning, but actually thickening. (cei.org)
  • Most of the data predicting climate change is false and flawed. (globalwarming.org)
  • NASA’s data showing global climate change is false. (vanityfair.com)
  • The world’s oceans are not heating up. (vanityfair.org)
  • The Polar Bear population is not shrinking. (vanityfair.org)
  • The melting polar ice caps are caused by natural factors. (cei.org)
  • All solar and wind energy companies are doomed to fail. (heartland.org)
  • Global temperatures have not increased over the last 15 years. (youtube.com)
  • Global Warming movement is a fad. (cei.org)
  • One of the best ways to combat any warming is to allow energy companies to prosper. (vanityfair.org)
  • Climate change is a good thing — warmer weather is better than colder weather. (forbes.org)
  • Predicted changes in sea level are wrong. (popularscience.com)
  • If any real changes are happening they wont be felt until a few hundred years from now. (nationalgeographic.com)

Ebell has been quoted as saying the best way to combat global warming is to ensure easy access to fossil fuels — they drive prosperity, which historically helps all problems. He, like Trump, believes in letting states and companies monitor their environmental issues, and says the federal government has no place there.