For those of you who have been following the presidential transition, you know that Trump has appointed Myron Ebell, a known climate-change denier who has no science background, to head up the EPA. This is troubling on many fronts. Scientists agree almost to a woman that climate change is, undeniably, happening. Unfortunately for the citizens of the world, Trump does not. In 2012, he tweeted:
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.”
In addition, Trump has vowed to dismantle most of the Environmental Protection Agency and withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement.
What is Really Happening to our Climate?
NASA has created a website which discusses how the climate is changing, and the ways in which it is affecting the environment, animal populations and human life. Visit it. Browse. Read. Despite the issue of climate change not being addressed once during the debates, it is probably the most pressing issue facing Earth today. 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded. EVER.
Who will Spearhead Trump’s Environmental Agenda?
To enact his agenda, Trump has appointed Ebell to head up the transition team of the EPA. Ebell currently heads up the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an energy policy group financed in part by fossil fuel corporations. The Washington Post reported that these fossil fuel corporations include Marathon Petroleum, Koch Industries and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. Competitive Enterprise Institute has also received more than $1.5 million from Exxon Mobil. Sounds like just a bit of a conflict of interest, no? Ebell also chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, whose purpose is to “dispel the myths of global warming.” Business Insider has called him “Enemy #1 to the current climate change community”.
The Environmental Defense Fund interviewed Myron Ebell about these conflicts of interest (in this case, Murray Energy) and here’s what he had to say (in the video is this gem from Ebell: “I would like more funding [from the coal companies] so I can combat the nonsense put out by the environmental movement.”)
What Do Environmental Groups Think About Ebell?
According to a report by Scientific American (which I think most Americans would agree is a tremendously valuable source of unbiased science news), “Ebell is a well-known and polarizing figure in the energy and environment realm. His participation in the EPA transition signals that the Trump team is looking to drastically reshape the climate policies the agency has pursued under the Obama administration.” Michael Brune, the executive head of the Sierra Club, has called him “a professional merchant of doubt who is committed to undermining the consensus behind climate change.”
What exactly CAN a Trump administration do to negatively impact our environmental protections?
>>He can walk away from the Paris Accords. It’s a voluntary agreement, so there are no consequences to not participating (other than the demise of the Earth) if he walks away. 365 companies have written to Trump to ask that he NOT walk away from the Paris Accords, but it is unclear whether he will heed their warnings. Other countries, including China, have pressed Trump to not back away from the accord, but the concern is that if he does, other countries may not be as motivated to fulfill their promises to reduce emissions under the accord (“Hey, the US isn’t doing it, why should we? argument).
>>He can roll back the Clean Power Plan which was set up by Obama to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. How could he do this? It would actually be very simple. The Clean Power Plan’s existence can be attributed to a 2007 court case in which the Supreme Court deemed greenhouse gases a threat to human health and should be considered a pollutant. The EPA, by law, then must regulate these greenhouse gases. Amongst other initiatives, the Obama administration put in place the Clean Power Plan. So, in order to GUT the Clean Power Plan, all that needs to happen is this: To remove entirely the ability of the EPA to reduce greenhouse gases by introducing a bill stating as much. From there, the CPP is easily dismantled. Could the Senate Democrats stop this bill from passing? Through filibuster, perhaps. But even if this did work, a Trump administration could deny EPA the funds to enforce the act, rendering it toothless.
>>Trump could weaken rules around coal power. Trump has vowed to repeal or scale back the application of an EPA rule limited ground level ozone pollution. He has vowed to do the same with a rule that limits the dumping of coal-mining waste in streams and rivers.
>>He could push back against the wind and solar power industries and reduce their support from the federal government. Trump has expressed numerous times that he does not like windmills marring the view at his Scotland golf course, and in a recent New York Times interview, he gave misinformed and outright false statements on wind farms and their effect on the environment.
Of course, there is much more he can do that would potentially harm our environment, given his blatant disregard for the natural world and a Republican-controlled Senate and House. But this is enough, for now, no?
What Can YOU Do?
You can write letters or make phone calls to your Senator and ask him or her to oppose Pruitt’s appointment. Emails, while convenient, are not nearly as effective.
You can watch Before the Flood with your family and friends.
You can speak out, stand up and be counted. We have only one Earth, people. It’s time to defend it.