Jerri-Lynn here: President-elect Trump is expected to name his nominees to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy sometime next week. The latter section of this post provides a useful primer on the backgrounds, connections and biases of possible nominees for spots in the Trump administration’s climate and energy team. Those who don’t make the cut for a senior administration position will no doubt remain active on energy issues, so it’s useful to have this information collected in one link-rich place. The introductory section repeats familiar talking points, which have been widely and extensively discussed.
By Steve Horn, who is is an Indianapolis, IN-based Research Fellow for DeSmogBlog and a freelance investigative journalist. He previously was a reporter and researcher at the Center for Media and Democracy. In his free time, Steve is a competitive runner and marathoner, with a personal best time of 2:43:04. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in political science and legal studies, his writing has appeared in Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, Vice News, The Intercept, Vocativ, Wisconsin Watch, Truth-Out, AlterNet, NUVO, Isthmus and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @SteveAHorn. .
One of President-elect Donald Trump’s most pressing current tasks is selecting who will serve in his new administration, especially his transition team and cabinet, though there are over in all.
Much of the mainstream media attention so far has of Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and former Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor. Congressional Democrats have from the White House, citing his personal bigotry and the bigotry often on display on Breitbart.com. Meanwhile, Bannon’s hire was .
Yet, perhaps just as troubling is the army of climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry lobbyists helping to pick or court a spot on Trump’s future climate and energy team.
and , who recently told Fox News that climate denial will be the “” of the Trump administration.
During the campaign cycle, DeSmog highlighted several of these people, including , , and , as well as post-campaign for former head of Trump’s Department of Energy transition team, and his replacement .
Some of those names, such as Catanzaro and McKenna, have as a result of Trump’s so-called to reduce lobbyists’ influence in D.C.
For starters, the “Drain the Swamp” plan calls for lobbyists on the Trump transition team to deregister as lobbyists, something Catanzaro and McKenna — both lobbyists for — have chosen not to do.
Yet everyone else who remains on Trump’s likely climate and energy list, or is helping pick those positions, has ties to corporate lobbying, corporate leadership, or corporate-funded think tanks. This is despite the fact Trump ran on an explicit campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of lobbyist influence and corporate dominance of politics in Washington, D.C.
So, who are these people under the most serious consideration to control the fate of environment and energy agencies in the Trump administration? And who is helping select those who will now work inside of the “swamp”? What jobs could they potentially fill or are they helping to fill? What are their backgrounds?
Here’s a primer on ten of them.
1) . Donald Trump has chosen outspoken climate change denier Myron Ebell of the Koch Industries-funded to oversee his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team. Ebell, who is not a scientist, chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, a group of organizations which “question global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies.”
He has to vote to pull the U.S. out of its international climate commitments including the Paris Agreement. Ebell has celebrated his poor track record and low credibility ratings, as seen in a in Congress that noted he and three of his CEI colleagues were featured in “A Field Guide to Climate Criminals” distributed by Greenpeace at the UN climate meeting in Montreal in December 2005.
2) . An attorney for the film Bracewell, Holmstead has served as a key anti-regulatory advocate on behalf of coal and utility industry clients and is . Perhaps in anticipation of landing a job in the Trump administration, Holmstead has , per the “drain the swamp” rules.
Before deregistering as a lobbyist, Holmstead’s clients included the likes of , , , , , and . Holmstead began his political career as the associate counsel to former President George H.W. Bush. After passing through the government-industry revolving door during the Bill Clinton White House years, Holmstead served as Assistant Administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation under President George W. Bush.
At that point, “he played a key role in the George W. Bush administration’s efforts to roll back clean air and climate change protections,” . Read the for a comprehensive look at his career.
3) . Pyle, President of the Koch-funded (IER) and its advocacy arm, the (AEA), was picked by President-elect Trump to lead the transition team for the Department of Energy upon the departure of McKenna. He is also linked to the new Koch-funded front group, Fueling US Forward, which DeSmog has reported on .
Before joining IER and AEA, Pyle founded and ran Pyle Consulting, Inc., a lobbying and public relations firm. As a lobbyist, lobbied on behalf of the precursor, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, and for Koch Industries.
4) . White is the director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment at the , a group by ExxonMobil, the Koch network, and the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. A , she directs the TPPF’s “Fueling Freedom” project, which seeks to “explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels” while “building a multi-state coalition to push back against the EPA’s unconstitutional efforts to take over the electric power sector by regulating CO2 via the Clean Power Plan.” The project further seeks to “end the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant.”
White recently published a book titled Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy and has referred to the EPA as the “.” She is under consideration as either the head of the EPA or the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Before working at TPPF, White worked as chairman and commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Prior to 2001, she served as then-Governor George W. Bush’s appointee to the Texas Water Development Board. Texas environmentalists assert White would be a “.
5) Harold Hamm. A oil baron, as well as founder and CEO of , Hamm is a leading candidate for . Politico dubbed Hamm as Trump’s “.” Hamm of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, creating a lobbying coalition which sought to have a Bakken Shale oil “on-ramp” portion added to the northern leg of the controversial pipeline.
As DeSmog first reported, Continental Resources has a , currently the led by Native Americans in North Dakota. A , Hamm spoke at the (RNC) in Cleveland, Ohio, and also served as energy adviser for Mitt Romney’s 2012 Republican presidential campaign.
Reuters reported Trump presidential campaign energy adviser U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) as saying for the Energy Secretary spot. It appears Hamm has bowed out of the running, though, running Continental Resources and suggesting Cramer is the right guy for the job.
6) Heidi Heitkamp. A Democratic U.S. Senator from North Dakota, with Pence and Trump to discuss the Energy Secretary and Interior Secretary openings in a meeting requested by Trump. Heitkamp is an and the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as a , of Trump has come out in support of. She is also a .
Politico described her as someone who “.”
“I think ‘Drill, Baby Drill’ is the way we need to do it,” . “This is an area where I have vehemently disagreed with the [Obama] administration. They’ve walked away from coal. They’re hostile to oil.” She has dismissed concerns about fracking as “.” Throughout her Senate career, Heitkamp has received $257,379 in from the oil and gas industry and $121,900 from the electricity utility industries.
7) Joe Manchin. A Democratic U.S. Senator from West Virginia, Manchin is best known as an outspoken supporter of the coal industry and he is as a potential Energy Secretary. He “is being considered to show the coal people how serious Trump is about coal,” a . Throughout his Senate career, Manchin has $685,698 from the coal mining industry, $444,450 from the electric utilities industry and another $284,150 from the oil and gas industry.
Having bashed President Barack Obama for Manchin , “It is only common sense to use all our domestic resources, and that includes our coal.”
8) Mary Fallin. The Republican governor of Oklahoma and a , Fallin resides in a governor’s mansion sharing a land plot with the shadow lobbying group, , which she has . The Oklahoma State Capitol has an and its dome was .
Fallin, who for a job interview, is to head the U.S. Department of Interior. An and over the process, Fallin between fracking waste injection wells and . Also a at the 2016 RNC in Cleveland, Fallin introduced an “” resolution in 2016 and was a major recipient of oil and gas industry campaign contributions both as Oklahoma and U.S. House of Representatives candidate.
9) Forrest Lucas. The founder and CEO of petroleum products company and namesake of the Indianapolis Colts’ , Lucas has also been . Lucas Oil has a , in the home state of Vice President-elect (and Indiana Governor) Mike Pence.
10) Rex Tillerson/Lee Raymond. Joe Scarborough — host of the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” — has that sources have told him the Trump transition team is mulling hiring either the CEO or former CEO of ExxonMobil to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. Tillerson currently serves as CEO of Exxon, while Raymond served as his predecessor. Exxon is the , and has said it does not consider itself an American company and has no particular loyalty to the country in which it was founded and in which it is headquartered, as revealed in investigative journalist Steve Coll’s 2012 book, .
Exxon is currently under a for potential securities fraud and defrauding the public on climate change by , though its in-house scientists had on climate change.
Trump has come toward and about Russia , while some Democratic U.S. Senators saying they have “additional information concerning the Russian government and the U.S. election that should be declassified and released to the public.” As it turns out, with Russian state-owned company Rosneft, as reported on DeSmog at the start of the Crimea crisis in Ukraine.
If nominated to a Cabinet position, both chambers of the U.S. Congress must vote to confirm the nominee. A that Trump will announce his EPA and DOE leadership picks next week.