Trump’s Eco-Hostile Cabinet
Donald Trump’s young presidency is already off to a very rocky start, from the travel ban debacle to the revelation that his national security advisor, Michael Flynn, had lied about talking with Russian officials before the US presidential election.
Add to these missteps the dreadful ramifications of his Cabinet choices, especially for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.
EPA is an agency responsible for the United States’ human health and environmental policies. It is also a key player in important programs to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions.
The DOE is concerned with the country’s energy policies and nuclear weapons.
Trump has arguably picked the most unqualified people to lead two offices whose policies will affect the environment in regions far beyond the US borders.
On Friday, the US Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt as the new head of EPA to succeed Gina McCarthy.
McCarthy was a highly qualified administrator with a degree in environmental health engineering, planning and policy, who led the former administration’s campaign against climate change.
Pruitt is a lawyer and, as described by The Atlantic, the legal nemesis of EPA. In his capacity as the attorney general of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA (the same entity he is now heading) countless times for what he described as their “activist agenda”.
Not surprising coming from a man who believes the “debate on climate change is far from settled”.
His nomination to head the EPA had been described by Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters, as being “the fox guarding the henhouse”.
The Senate had been urged by more than 750 former EPA employees and officials to reject Pruitt’s nomination, but in the end their efforts were futile as senators voted 52-46 to confirm his nomination. He is said to have received more than a quarter of a million dollars in donations from the oil and gas sector over the years, making him the least committed EPA chief to confronting industries that adversely contribute to global warming.
Weird DOE Pick
Trump’s pick for the DOE is Rick Perry, a former presidential candidate and ex-governor of the oil-rich state of Texas.
The Senate has yet to vote on Perry’s nomination, but if Pruitt’s case is anything to go by, Perry’s chances of taking the reins of DOE are assured.
He is as unqualified as Pruitt for the position he has been picked for. If confirmed, he will succeed Ernest Moniz, a highly-respected and experienced nuclear physicist, who participated in negotiations with Iran that resulted in the landmark nuclear deal in 2015.
On the other hand, Perry has a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry with experience in US Air Force and cotton farming.
That’s not all: During his bid to win the Republican Party’s nomination for the US presidency in 2012, he called for the elimination of DOE—yes, the same department he is now poised to lead. In January, he was quoted by CNN as saying: “After being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”
All’s well that ends well, right? Not really.
Trump’s highly ironic choices for two environmentally-significant entities highlight the real-estate mogul’s absolute unconcern about environmental affairs.
Under the previous administration of Barack Obama, the US had a leading role in the global fight against climate change and helped hammer out the historic Paris Agreement in December 2015, which aims to limit the planet’s warming to under 2 degrees Celsius.
Washington’s compliance with the deal, as a top emitter of carbon dioxide, is paramount to its success. However, it has closed its eyes to climatic dangers threatening the planet under Trump. Expect the planet’s environmental conditions to worsen!