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Climate Deniers and Oil Flacks Who Love Trump’s EPA Pick

Climate Deniers and Oil Flacks Who Love Trump’s EPA Pick thumbnail

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general and Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, has been a longtime opponent of federal environmental regulations and a denier of climate change. Not surprisingly, as Pruitt’s confirmation hearing approaches, many of his most prominent supporters are on the fringe of leading scientific consensus on climate change, and many are closely aligned with the fossil fuel industry that the EPA is responsible for regulating.

“As far as we can tell there’s literally nothing in his record showing any indication of protecting the environment in any way that matters,” Natural Resources Defense Council’s director of government affairs David Goldston said on a call with reporters on Wednesday.

Democrats and environmentalists have accused Pruitt of being too extreme to lead an agency charged with protecting public health and the environment. They point to his work as Oklahoma’s attorney general: Since 2011 he has sued the EPA 13 times and has led the effort to overturn new water regulations and Obama’s signature climate policy.

Six Senate Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee have demanded more details from Pruitt on his connection to groups such as the Koch-funded Freedom Partners, which donated at least $175,000 to the non-profit Rule of Law Defense Fund, the organization that Pruitt and other attorneys general used to coordinate lawsuits against the EPA under the Obama administration. The New York Times also found direct coordination between Pruitt’s office and the Oklahoma oil and gas company Devon Energy to weaken EPA oversight.

“We have seen in the last few weeks how the reins of the federal government are being handed over to the fossil fuel industry.”

“This is a frightening moment,” said Harvard University professor Naomi Oreskes, who’s written extensively on fossil fuel interests in politics, in December. “We have seen in the last few weeks how the reins of the federal government are being handed over to the fossil fuel industry.”

And now, a new dark-money group has popped up to further counter attacks. Politico acquired a flier from Protecting America Now, a new 501(c)(4) that solicits anonymous contributions anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000 to confront “anti-business, environmentalist extremists.” Their website is registered by an Oklahoma public affairs firm that counts oil and utility companies and Senator Jim Inhofe among its clients. Pruitt’s other defenders include prominent climate deniers, a Koch-supported organization, and oil-funded groups and lobbyists.

Here are some of his most prominent advocates and what they are saying:

The Denier-in-Chief:  Jim Inhofe is a four-term senator from Oklahoma, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and the author of “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.”

  • In his words: “Scott Pruitt is the ideal candidate to lead the EPA,” Inhofe said in a statement after meeting Pruitt on Monday. “Pruitt has seen first-hand the abuses of power at the hands of this agency and has fought back to ensure environmental quality without sacrificing jobs.”
  • What this means: Inhofe is considered to be the most outspoken climate change denier in all of national politics and is now on the cusp of seeing his ultimate wish realized: A hollowed-out EPA that has no interest in considering the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. A fellow Oklahoman, with a long and friendly relationship with the oil and gas industry, his top contributions come from Koch Industries and the coal company Murray Energy. He also gets plenty of dollars from Devon Energy and ExxonMobil. Inhofe makes regular appearances at Heartland Institute conferences that promote climate change as a conspiracy and scientific fraud.

The Legitimizer: Jeb Bush tapped Pruitt to help put together his 2015 campaign policy plan, “Putting Washington In Its Place.”

  • In his words: “The far left has tried to distort Pruitt’s views in a lame attempt to make him into an anti-science boogeyman,” Bush wrote in a December CNN op-ed. “The Scott Pruitt I know is far from it. Unlike liberals who want to shut down any rational debate about climate change, Pruitt has acknowledged human impact on the climate and supports a robust discussion about its effects and what the government should and shouldn’t do to address it.”
  • What it means: Bush presents a more moderate picture of Pruitt than the hard line reputation he’s cultivated by suing the EPA repeatedly over its regulations. The former GOP presidential hopeful, who waffled quite a bit on science himself during the presidential primaries, drew the most oil and gas donations of all the candidates, particularly from ExxonMobil executives, before he quit the race. ThinkProgress notes that Bush’s latest gig is consulting for the lobbying firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, whose clients include Chevron and Consol Energy.

Marshalling the Defense: America Rising Squared is an arm of the Republican super-PAC, America Rising, which launched a campaign to target environmentalists earlier this year.

  • In their words: “AR2 is putting money behind a new digital ad geo-targeting Capitol Hill showing how Senate Dems’ plans to obstruct President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominees flies in the face of their own words,” Communications Director Jeremy Adler wrote in an email. “So we roll the tape!”

  • What it means: The group launched and an ad campaign on his behalf in states where five Democrats face reelection in 2018, according to Politico. This is the same group that deployed campaign-styled trackers to follow high-profile environmentalists, including Democratic donor Tom Steyer and climate activist and journalist Bill McKibben. Their funding is secret. Like Bush, the group has fought back against accusations that Pruitt is too extreme and too beholden to the energy industry to lead the EPA by accusing the left of also having conflicts of interest. In response to Senate Democrats’ queries about Pruitt’s industry connections, AR Squared’s website said it was a “partisan fishing expedition.”

The Climate Deniers: This trifecta of conservative think tanks—the Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and FreedomWorks—are all famous for promoting climate-change denial and have mobilized to support Pruitt.

  • In their words: “This is a great day for the environment, the American people, and the economy—which will soon no longer be crippled by totally insane regulations, including the idea that humans exhale a pollutant with their every breath,” said Heartland’s science director Jay Lehr back in December. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!” a researcher at Heartland exclaimed December 7. “The mainstream media’s misrepresentation of Scott Pruitt as an unsophisticated crony of the powerful energy lobby couldn’t be farther from the truth,” FreedomWorks wrote.
  • What it means: Heartland Institute promotes pseudoscientific study while lambasting the global consensus on climate science as some hoax. The think tank’s barely contained glee represents the anticipation for the changes that other climate denier groups, Competitive Enterprise Institute for example, expect under Pruitt’s EPA. “Green pressure groups have come to think of EPA as their hereditary fiefdom,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis said. “That could end if someone like Scott Pruitt becomes the administrator.” While FreedomWorks isn’t focused only on climate denial, it shares similar funders with many fossil fuel-front groups including Donors Trust and the American Petroleum Institute.

Given this list of prominent supporters, environmental advocates fear that the fossil fuel industry has already come to dominate Pruitt and the Trump’s environmental policy.

“From denying settled climate science to leading the opposition of EPA’s Clean Power Plan, Pruitt has sent a loud and clear message to Big Oil and its well-funded mouthpieces that he’s their guy,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who is one of the senators demanding Pruitt’s disclosure. “To put a climate denier at the helm of an agency working to keep our environment safe is as dangerous as it gets.”

Mother Jones

27 Comments on "Climate Deniers and Oil Flacks Who Love Trump’s EPA Pick"

  1. penury on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 10:08 am 

    Events may drive policy at some time in the future. This may be when it begins. Perhaps the Trump administration should be allowed to be formed before we condemn everyone in it. Based upon prior performance the Ds are no better at preventing or fixing problems than the Rs.

  2. onlooker on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 10:25 am 

    I think a consensus exists on PO, that civilization I mean world civilization will keep on utilizing FF energy until it cannot. So despite all these climate summits and what not, the world is committed to continue on the FF bandwagon because we got no choice. Either that or the end of Industrial civilization with the accompanying consequences. The climate is a problem for those in the future or so we hope.

  3. BobInget on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 10:46 am 

    Clearly, putting foxes in charge of henhouses in the new Administration gives new meaning to over reaching even for American Taliban.

    Forget about posting outraged missiles here.
    Go bigger on ‘Social Media’.
    Call your congress people four times a week.
    Write, not form email your Senators.
    Organize marches in your city.
    Stop bringing home made 100% whole wheat but gluten-free muffins to knife fights.
    Don’t be distracted by fake news. IOW’s don’t
    use human energy swatting BOTS.

  4. Sissyfuss on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 11:40 am 

    The cancer is metastasizing exponentially. To make America great again we will have to compete with China on an equal footing,meaning no environmental regs or labor laws. This will be the one last consumption orgy before the Great Reset. Knowledge is power except when it is demoralizing. I pray for the blissful ignorance to overtake me soon.

  5. penury on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 11:48 am 

    The prayer for blissful ignorance was granted even before it was issued.

  6. Anonymous on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 1:28 pm 

    Hey look clogger, the article is talking about you…

  7. Midnight Oil on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 1:36 pm 

    Boy, AP is going to go APE now! Goes to show we will need to “adapt” to climate change, as Rex Tillerson has said publicly.
    The fear factor will not stand in the way of the drill, baby, drill Dinosaurs in office.

  8. onlooker on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 1:42 pm 

    Or about this. Yea right climate treaties or sham treaties.
    —But the reality is China has big plans for coal. Two hundred coal-fired power plants will be built in the coming decade. Some of the older plants will be decommissioned, but even by 2020 coal capacity is estimated to increase by 20 per cent.

  9. Davy on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 1:55 pm 

    Onlooker plans don’t mean reality anymore. China is going down the shitter economically. They are going to be lucky to tread water. It will be much the same as Trumps hollow slogan of make America great again being a dead on arrival plan. Both nations have long term structural issues coming to a head in the next year or two. Bubbles pop and at some point there is a price to be paid.

  10. Dredd on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 2:20 pm 

    Pruitt was born in Trancelvania (Choose Your Trances Carefully – 8).

  11. onlooker on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 2:28 pm 

    Agreed Davy, trends, plans and policies do not mean much any more. We are now at the total mercy of circumstances and events.

  12. Boat on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 4:15 pm 

    No, no fuss much,

    You slap terrifs on China that equals what American companies pay for labor and environmental regulations. Duh.

  13. Anonymous on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 5:44 pm 

    Yea, ‘duh’. That about sums the depth of your mental facilities, such as they are.

  14. Sissyfuss on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 10:25 pm 

    Terrifs, Boastful? I think there’s a new sherrif in town.

  15. makati1 on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 10:35 pm 

    Good one Sissy! LOL

    Boat doesn’t have a clue.

  16. GregT on Tue, 10th Jan 2017 1:27 am 

    Careful guys, you’re all bordering on calling Boat an idiot. The politically correct police will not tolerate that.

  17. Kenz300 on Tue, 10th Jan 2017 9:33 am 

    NY ISLAND where Trump has his real estate holdings and Trump’s Florida properties are very vulnerable to rising water levels due to Climate Change. Miami already is dealing with flooded streets on a regular basis.

  18. Cloggie on Tue, 10th Jan 2017 3:06 pm 

    Extreme cold in Eastern Europe;
    Serbia -33 C

  19. Cloggie on Tue, 10th Jan 2017 5:02 pm 

    There is no event in the Netherlands causing more excitement than the Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour):

    The last one happened in 1997, twenty years ago and not few suspect that Global Warming is the reason. Interestingly though, the coldest one by far was in 1963, but it lasted 22 years before the next one could take place in 1985.

    It’s a circular speed skating tour of 200 km through the northern province of Frisia (Friesland) and passes through the 11 most beautiful towns of Friesland, hence the name:

    Now that there are Siberian temperatures in Eastern Europe, the Elfsteden fever is beginning to get the country in its grip again. The pre-condition: 15 cm ice throughout the entire route. There is a special Elfsteden commission that determines if the event will happen. At the Vatican they use white smoke if they have pope, in Friesland the magic words are (in the Frisian language, nobody in the rest of the Netherlands understands):

    “It giet oan!” (it goes on!)

    (Frisian has more resemblance with English than Dutch).

    The prettiest pictures:

  20. Cloggie on Tue, 10th Jan 2017 5:28 pm 

    In the 20th century there were 15 Elfsteden tours. Now meteorologists are certain: in the 21st century there will be only 9:

    Climate change will strike without mercy.

    In 2012 there almost was one, but one commission member exaggerated his sense of responsibility and called it off, the ice wasn’t thick enough in his view, leaving the country very angry. The guy was never heard of again, some suspect a crime, others old age and yet others alcohol.

  21. R1verat on Thu, 12th Jan 2017 8:31 am 

    I could not figure out why Trump would appoint someone that clearly opposed the very organization they are supposed to be in charge of until it dawned on me that the point is to do a hostile takeover & break apart this organization.

    Stand by Trump supporters to eat your money & pride cuz without a clean environ thats all you will have!

  22. Apneaman on Thu, 12th Jan 2017 12:06 pm 

    Midnight Oil, I’m LMAO at the humans. What is happening, uber denial, magical thinking, a guy like Trump and his doe eyed disciples (cloggie et al fags), etc, is exactly the scenario I predicted a number of years ago. It’s a no brainer for any student of the humans and their blink of an eye civilization period. Same shit, different century and a scale not seen by the humans – ever. The humans have never been through a mass extinction – not even fucking close and most species (min 75%) only get to see such horror once except for jelly fish a few other hardy survivors and microbes who are the true masters of this planet. The wailing and gnashing of teeth draws ever nearer.

    “Unprecedented” Polar Melting Unfolds as Climate Disruption Denial Goes Wild

    “..scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concluded in their annual Arctic climate report card, “The Arctic is unraveling.” Record-breaking heat in the north has clearly pushed the region into uncharted climate territory.

    In late December, the heating trend continued, with temperatures at the North Pole spiking to near melting point, a stunning 50 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, despite being the darkest time of the year, with literally no sunlight.”

  23. Apneaman on Thu, 12th Jan 2017 12:12 pm 

    Monkey people

  24. Apneaman on Thu, 12th Jan 2017 12:15 pm 

    NOAA– Atmospheric CO2 Increased by 2.77 Parts Per Million During 2016

    “CO2 is the primary gas driving global warming. But it is not the only one. Add in methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gasses and you end up with a total forcing that’s equivalent to 490 parts per million CO2.”

  25. Apneaman on Thu, 12th Jan 2017 12:19 pm 

    Antarctica is About to Lose a 2,000 Square Mile Chunk of Ice — And it Could Mean the End of the Larsen C Ice Shelf

    “The ultimate collapse of Larsen A occurred in 1995. In 2002, further up the Antarctic Peninsula, the larger Larsen B Ice Shelf succumbed to the same fate. And it is thought that such losses haven’t happened to this section of Antarctica in at least 11,000 years and possibly as long ago as 100,000 years.”

    “Event Could Presage Total Collapse

    Of concern is the fact that once this massive ice berg calves off of Larsen C, the great ice sheet may become unstable. It will take on a concave form. This form will make it more vulnerable to further melt by warming waters running in toward the shelf. Furthermore, the large ice berg will take a chunk of Larsen C’s compressive arch with it. Such a compressive arch — like the arch of a flying buttress — helps to bear the weight of the shelf and keep it from smashing into thousands of tiny pieces. If too much of the arc is lost, the shelf can’t survive for long.”

  26. Apneaman on Thu, 12th Jan 2017 12:25 pm 

    Rain bombs keep falling on their heads….

    Record rainfall puts Thailand’s flood resilience to the test

  27. Apneaman on Thu, 12th Jan 2017 12:31 pm 

    Rusty Patched Bumblebee Declared Endangered

    They have plenty of company, like the endangered two legged cancer who is causing it all. Saying humans are endangered is a huge understatement since their disappearance from the evolutionary story is pretty much sealed. A done deal. Waiting on inertia.

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