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Update: February 3, 2018

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-10 (primarily along party lines) to advance Andrew Wheeler’s nomination for Deputy Administrator to the full Senate for a vote. The vote is not scheduled at this time.

This update was compiled by Megan Toney. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this update please contact megan@usresistnews.org.


October 16, 2017

Summary

Over the last few weeks, Trump has submitted nominations for various environmental positions within the government. With these nominations, many are worried that the administration has the manpower it needs to roll back green energy initiatives and replace them with coal and fossil fuel programs. There have been four nominations for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) positions: Andrew Wheeler, coal lobbyist, for Deputy Administrator; Michael Dourson, toxicology and chemical researcher, for Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical  Safety and Pollution Prevention; Bill Wehrum, coal and oil lobbyist, for Office of Air and Radiation; and David Ross, a lawyer typically defending those who have violated EPA regulations, for Office of Water. Trump has also nominated Barry Meyers, CEO of AccuWeather, for Under Secretary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce and Kathleen Hartnett, Texas Environmental Regulator and author of “Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case,” for the White House Senior Advisor on Environmental Policy. Each of these nominees has rejected the idea of climate change science and many have a substantial stake in the arenas they have been sought out to regulate.

Even before these nominations, Secretary Pruitt met frequently with lobbyists and industry leaders in sectors like oil, coal, and toxicology, soliciting their input on potential regulations, while avoiding meetings with environmental groups. Funding for environmental justice investigations has decreased, and Pruitt has threatened to stop funding this sector of the Justice Department altogether. Environmental crime investigators have been reassigned to Pruitt’s 24-hour security detail, and climate change researchers have claimed they received desk assignments rather than instructions to continue their research. To top it all off, an investigation recently began on Pruitt’s spending on private and chartered flights and the $25K sound-proof phone booth in his office.

Analysis

Earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works began the process of confirming these nominations with a series of hearings. While the current employers of these nominees are alarming unto themselves, their histories have only caused greater distress among environmental groups and the Democratic Party. Dourson, the nominee for Chemical Safety, founded an organization that produces research in support of decreased chemical regulation. The results of these studies not only tend to minimize the harmful effects of certain chemicals, but their funding sources are not fully disclosed. When asked about potential conflicts of interest, Dourson replied he did not see any present issue. Wheeler, the nominee for Deputy Administrator, is a registered lobbyist for Murray Energy, the largest coal mining organization in the US that filed multiple suits against the Obama Administration for regulations on their industry. Wheeler has worked for Senators in the past, in particular on pieces of Bush Era environmental legislation. Hartnett, the nominee for Senior Advisor, has claimed that carbon is harmless and her current position at a think tank in Texas is funded by major fossil fuel companies. Wehrum and Ross, nominees to Offices of Air and Water, also have long associations with anti-regulation groups and have previously worked as lawyers against the EPA and other environmental organizations. Meyers, Nominee to NOAA, is a businessman with little scientific experience with a history of support of privatization of weather information and restriction on the NOAA’s dissemination of data. With these nominations it is clear that the Trump Administration is looking to deregulate coal and fossil fuel industries, rolling back the Obama Era climate preservation standards and allowing for private sector domination. In the midst of these efforts, money is being spent on chartered flights, private phone booths, and protection details before it is used for environmental justice investigations and climate change research.

Engagement Resources

This brief was compiled by Megan Toney. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact megan@usresistnews.org.


 

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