CPR Statements: Trump Picks for EPA, Interior, Energy Chart the Wrong Course for Our Health, Our Environment, and Our Energy Policies

by Brian Gumm

December 13, 2016

President-Elect Donald Trump has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as his Interior Secretary, and former Texas governor Rick Perry as his Energy Secretary. The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has released statements on the picks.

Robert Glicksman, CPR Board Member, on Department of the Interior Secretary nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT): 

Donald Trump's selection of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as Secretary of the Interior does nothing to erase fears that the President-Elect prioritizes private extractive and developmental uses of federal lands at the expense of management in the long-term interests of the American people. 

So far, Trump's transition team has made it clear that the new administration intends to abandon the Department of the Interior's mission of protecting and preserving our nation's natural heritage for use by present and future generations in favor of a brazen, short-sighted, and counterproductive charge into maximizing extractive activities like logging, mining, and oil and gas drilling. This rush to fill the coffers of those seeking to exploit our public lands for private gain will result in economic distress to the many communities, especially in the West, that rely on the job opportunities and revenue flows generated by recreational uses such as fishing and hunting that will be incompatible with extractive uses. 

Representative Zinke's record on these issues is mixed. While he has supported continued public access to federal lands for hunting and fishing, he has opposed Obama administration efforts to protect wetlands and intermittent streams from the adverse effects of coal mining and its temporary moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands. 

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) has pushed Trump and the Interior transition team to roll back national monument designations from Presidents Clinton and Obama, an unprecedented action that appears to have no support in current law and is inconsistent with established conservation practices. Representative Zinke's past opposition to divestiture of federal lands in favor of state or private ownership is laudable, as is his support for permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Whether Zinke supports Bishop's dangerous policy proposals remains to be seen, however. 

One especially troubling aspect of the new administration's natural resources management agenda is its approach to climate change. The President-Elect has notoriously and unabashedly declared climate change to be a hoax. His transition team is stocked with individuals who have vociferously opposed government efforts of any kind to address what they have characterized as the non-existent threats posed by climate change. In fact, it is beyond dispute that the disruptive impact of climate change on natural resources, including those on America's federal lands, has become increasingly clear and worrisome. Under the Obama administration, federal land management agencies were responsible for managing the resources in their charge to increase their resilience to climate change. The Interior Department has taken meaningful first steps to meet that commitment. The Trump administration's agenda, based on conspiratorial fantasies, is poised to halt and reverse that progress and to exacerbate climate-related risks to a healthy public natural resource base. Though Zinke has supported some climate-related legislation in the past and endorsed an amorphous "prudent" approach to addressing climate change, he has also characterized the science as "unproven." It's unlikely he'd be able or even willing to significantly impede aggressive efforts by the Trump administration to gut the progress the Obama administration has made in slowing and preparing for climate change.

Alexandra Klass, CPR Board Member, on Department of Energy Secretary nominee Rick Perry: 

In choosing former Texas governor Rick Perry as Energy Secretary, Donald Trump has made clear that American leadership on a clean energy future is on indefinite hold. We're at the end of 2016. By now, we should be well into a clean energy transition, moving away from dirty, polluting fossil fuels and leading the nation, if not the world, toward new, cleaner, far more innovative energy production sources and technologies. Instead, President-Elect Trump and his energy transition team have been loudly and proudly exclaiming their intention to drag the nation back to a greater dependence on coal, which today's energy economics do not even support, and overreliance on other fossil fuels that pollute our air and water, harm our children's health, and work as an impediment to achieving a clean energy future. 

Rick Perry appears poised to advance these backward policy positions and abandon any leadership the United States may have shown on energy issues. The Trump administration's agenda is blind to today's energy economics, which disfavor any continued use of coal to generate electricity; ignores the vibrant renewable energy economy that has created new companies, jobs, and technologies; and sacrifices the nation's health and future for short-term gains for fossil fuel corporate interests.

Robert Verchick, CPR President, on EPA Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt: 

Donald Trump's choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as EPA Administrator is a clear indication that the administration plans a full-throated assault on environmental protections. The Trump EPA transition team has made clear its intention to try to roll back years, if not decades, of environmental progress that has protected all Americans from pollution, major health problems, and toxic chemicals. 

From skepticism about the reality of climate change and a dismissive posture toward toxic pollution to the foolhardy goals of withdrawing from the Paris climate change accord and trashing the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Rule, Trump and Company have set the stage for regressive environmental policies that will hurt each and every American. Pruitt, an ally of the fossil fuel industry and a staunch opponent of the Clean Power Plan, appears eager to enact that destructive agenda.

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Brian Gumm is the Communications Director at the Center for Progressive Reform. Prior to joining CPR in March 2016, he spent nearly a decade in several roles at the Center for Effective Government, including communications director and senior writer.

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