Climate change sceptic tapped to head EPA

Sources close to Donald Trump’s campaign have indicated that a climate change sceptic with ties to the pro-carbon Koch brothers will head the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump has threatened to walk away from the Paris climate agreement. John Dyer reports from Boston.

Sources close to the Trump campaign have said that climate change sceptic Myron Ebell will be appointed the new head of the EPA. (Image credit: screenshot)

Sources close to the Trump campaign have said that climate change sceptic Myron Ebell will be appointed the new head of the EPA. (Image credit: screenshot)

US President-elect Donald Trump is moving aggressively to dismantle the United States’ commitments to fighting climate change, starting with the expected appointment of climate change denier Myron Ebell as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA.

“Trump has had the most aggressively anti-environmental platform of anyone to ever run for president,” said environmentalist David Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Support from Koch brothers

Ebell is the resident energy expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or CEI, a non-profit right-wing think tank in northern Virginia that receives much of its support from David and Fred Koch, the energy magnates who deny that carbon emissions are altering the climate.

“CEI questions global warming alarmism, makes the case for access to affordable energy, and opposes energy-rationing policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, cap-and-trade legislation, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the group’s website. “CEI also opposes all government mandates and subsidies for conventional and alternative energy technologies.

Criticised Pope Francis

Ebel is not a scientist. He holds degrees in philosophy and political science.

He hasn’t spoken to the media about his work on Trump’s transition team or his expected new job at the EPA. But in late September he wrote an opinion article for The Daily Caller, a conservative publication, that criticised Pope Francis for advocating clean energy, calling the advocacy un-Christian.

“Policies that encourage developing countries to invest in the most expensive and unreliable sources of electricity, such as wind and solar, and close down the most affordable — fossil fuels — would negatively effect the world’s poorest by hindering their access to reliable, affordable energy,” Ebel wrote, incorrectly using the English word “effect” rather than “affect.”

Tip of the iceberg

Ebell is the tip of the iceberg, said Goldston. Trump has long entertained conspiracy theories about climate change.

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” the New York real estate mogul and reality television show celebrity tweeted in 2012.

Now the Donald has the power to act on those comments.

Reverse Obama’s oil and gas restrictions

With the help of climate change sceptics in the Republican Party who control both chambers of Congress, Trump intends to cut billions of dollars for United Nations climate change programs and redirect the money to U.S. infrastructure projects, according to his campaign plan for his first 100 days in the White House.

He also intends to reverse President Barack Obama’s executive orders that have restricted oil and natural gas fracking and the use of coal in power plants.

Deniers in powerful positions

Ebel is also not the only climate change denier who will be in a powerful position to regulate greenhouse gases after Trump’s inauguration on January 20.

Trump is also reportedly considering appointing Forrest Lucas as U.S. Secretary of the Interior. The founder of Lucas Oil, a massive private oil products company, and Protect the Harvest, a group that opposes animal rights, Lucas would have control over permits for oil and gas drilling on federal lands and protecting public wilderness areas.

“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,” said Trump’s 100-day plan.

Environmentalists vow hard fight

Environmentalists contributed around USD 100 million to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who pledged to uphold the UN climate talk agreement but who lost to Trump on November 8. Those groups are already vowing to mount a vigorous defence of Obama’s policies to fight climate change next year.

“He [Trump] said he’ll cancel Paris, but whether he can is a question,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “Trump must choose wisely. Otherwise I can guarantee him the hardest fight of his political life.”

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