A climate change denier at the head of the EPA?

8 December 2016   
A climate change denier at the head of the EPA?

Donald Trump’s presidency could set U.S. climate change policy back by decades. Back in 2012, the now-President-elect tweeted out his skepticism about climate change, arguing that it was a ploy to deplete the U.S. manufacturing industry. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” he wrote. Throughout the campaign, he and his team struggled to define Trump’s stance on climate change and the role that human advancement has played in the matter. Despite the ambiguity in Trump’s stance toward global warming, however, he did make it clear that he valued corporate profit and deregulation over preservation of the planet.

He pledged to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, and while this may be politically more complicated than he has envisioned, there is definitely room for him to circumvent the provisions of the deal. Each country is responsible for setting their own standards within the confines of the agreement, and it is likely that Trump will seek to protect business interests at the expense of upholding the U.S.’s part of the deal. There could be major consequences to this, however, as CNN notes that “U.S. reversal would likely also cause other major carbon emitting nations, like China or India, to at least slow their own efforts.”

In addition to Trump’s own stance on the issue, he has now taken an egregious step in the wrong direction by appointing a known climate change denier and business advocate to run the EPA. There were warning signs of such a pick when Trump announced that Myron Ebell, regarded by climate activists as a global terrorist, would be heading the EPA transition team. Ebell is one of the most prominent climate change deniers and is known to have accepted money from fossil fuel companies to disseminate false information about climate change. Trump has since selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the agency in his administration, which reveals that Ebell’s placement was just the beginning of a war against progress on climate policy.

Just last year, Pruitt stated that “debate is far from settled” on climate change. That’s simply not true. There exists a massive scientific consensus over the fact that Earth is heating at an unprecedented rate due to human activity. But, surely Pruitt, with no climate science experience under his belt, knows better than the global scientific community. As Oklahoma’s AG, Pruitt has been paid by fossil fuel companies to fight the EPA – the very organization he will lead next year – over regulation, while using American tax dollars to do so.

He has sued the EPA over regulations and limitations pertaining to air quality and pollution, aiming to protect businesses that contribute immensely to green house gas emissions. A New York Times piece found that Pruitt had an “unprecedented, secretive” alliance with fossil fuel companies, whereby he has received an excess of $300,000 in donations from the industry in the past 14 years.

Trump’s pick does not come as a surprise in light of his decision to let Ebell head the transition, but it might given his recent conversation with Al Gore. "I had a lengthy and very productive session with the President-elect," said Gore following a conversation with Trump earlier this week. "It was a sincere search for areas of common ground. I had a meeting beforehand with Ivanka Trump. The bulk of the time was with the President-elect, Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued, and I'm just going to leave it at that."

Gore and Pruitt certainly do not see eye-to-eye on climate change policy, and thus Trump’s decision appears to disregard anything he and Gore might have discussed behind closed doors.

What do you think about Pruitt leading the EPA?