Who Will Lead Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency? The Current Picks

A Caterpillar Inc. D9T dozer moves coal at the Savage Industries Co. processing facility in Price, Utah, on Friday, May 27, 2016.George Frey / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Environmentalists, land conservationists, and anyone who believes in man-made climate change should be concerned about the incoming Trump administration. While the President-elect has no detailed policy on environmental issues, he is an outspoken climate skeptic who is pro-coal and against a strong Federal hand in the environment. The spotlight then turns to the rumored candidates named by political analysts from the New York Times and Politico for the roles of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Here's what we know about them.


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Myron Ebell

Current Job: Leader of Trump’s EPA transition team, Director of the Center of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and Chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition — whose mission is “dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis.”

Past Jobs: Policy Director at Frontiers of Freedom Institute, Member of the Global Science Communications Team at the American Petroleum Institute.

What He Wants To Protect: Climate change skepticism. On Twitter, Ebell describes himself as the “#1 enemy of climate change alarmism,” and he’s well-known around the world as an outspoken climate-change denier. Ebell has appeared on CNN, C-SPAN, BBC, NBC, a PBS documentary called Climate of Doubt, and more. In 2001, the nonprofit Clean Air Trust dubbed Ebell “Villain of the Month” for helping persuade Bush to loosen carbon dioxide emission regulations.

What He Doesn’t: All climate change and energy-rationing policies.


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Robert E. Grady

Current Job: Partner at Gryphon Investors.

Past Jobs: Partner at various private equity firms, Deputy Assistant to President George H.W. Bush, Executive Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House, and OMB Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science.

What He Wants To Protect: Grady’s environmental interests aren’t as distinct as Ebell’s, but he’s well-known for helping Bush draft the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990 to address acid rain, toxic pollutants, and the depleting ozone layer. Grady has also written the occasional op-ed criticizing different parts of the Obama administration, including this one about how Obama’s new fuel efficiency standards could raise car costs, prompting people to rely on older, cheaper cars with even worse effects on the environment.

Bill Nye

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Leslie Rutledge

Current Job: Attorney general of Arkansas, currently an agricultural advisor for Trump.

Past Jobs: Deputy Counsel to the Office of Governor Mike Huckabee, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Attorney for the State of Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services.

What She Wants To Protect: State rights, power companies, and the jobs and revenue generated by Arkansas’s many coal-fired power plants. Rutledge is no stranger to challenging the EPA in favor of utility companies and other corporations: Earlier this year, she and other Republican officials criticized the EPA’s anti-haze regulation because of the high cost it would put on utility companies. The state, she believes, should have control over this, not the EPA.

What She Doesn’t: Frogs. This year, Rutledge tried to appeal a panel decision that gave the endangered species of dusky gopher frog protection under the Fish and Wildlife Services, because the decision impeded on the private property rights of Weyerhaeuser (a timberland company). It’s not Rutledge’s only clash with environmental protection laws — she’s been labelled “anti-environment” by the Arkansas Times for her involvement in 26 pending cases against the EPA.


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Joe Aiello

Current Job: Director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Environmental Safety and Quality Assurance (DEP).

Past Jobs: Quality Assurance Officer for NJ DEP, environmental consultant for various firms, and working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (specific role unknown).

What He Wants To Protect: It’s currently unclear how Aiello might stand on environmental issues in the cabinet, but the long-term veteran of the NJ DEP does have experience with environmental safety: Aiello helped offshore power plants develop environmental impact statements, helped New Jersey develop surface water quality assessment programs, and coordinated the building of the state’s environmental testing lab.

Carol Comer

Current Job: Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).

Past Jobs: IDEM General Counsel, environmental lawyer: Senior Administrative Law Judge for the Indiana Board of Tax Review, Administrative Law Judge with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

What She Wants To Protect: Carol Comer’s stance on environmental issues are, like Aiello’s, still unknown.

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