Conflicting News about President-Elect Trump and Climate Change

Transition Team Uniformly Anti-Climate but Trump Signals Open Mind to NY Times

Donald TrumpToday we got a sliver of hope from President-Elect Trump about remaining in the Paris Agreement.  He also acknowledged a connection between human activity and climate change, something obviously at odds with his campaign rhetoric.  Trump told the New York Times he would “keep an open mind” about the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement.  He also said he thinks there is ” “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change.  He added, “Some, something. It depends on how much.” His words are a far cry from his repeated assertions on the campaign trail and elsewhere that climate change is a “hoax,” and offer the first real hope that he may not turn his back on one of the most pressing issues facing the globe. On the other hand, Trump has made plenty of other statements, including that he will repeal the Clean Power Plan and roll back “job-killing regulations,” which suggest that today’s slight change of heart should be viewed with caution.

Moreover, the advisers Trump has surrounded himself with, not just on energy and environmental issues but more broadly, hardly inspire confidence that the President-elect will allow the U.S. to remain in the Paris Agreement. His earliest choices for official positions are all climate skeptics.  Presidential advisor Steve Bannon calls environmentalists “greentards,” who are “totally fucking wrong on climate change.”  Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions has a lifetime League of Conservation Score of 7 and is a climate skeptic. Trump’s choice as National Security Advisor does not believe that climate change is a national security threat in contrast to many leading national security experts. And Trump’s transition team leaders is full of well-known climate deniers and fossil fuel representatives.   Here’s a list published today in Climate Wire of transition team members and their known positions on climate change and clean energy:

  “EPA transition head:  Myron Ebell, a well-known climate skeptic and director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute; Energy: Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries and a former Republican congressional aide; Interior:  Doug Domenech, director of the Fueling Freedom Project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, secretary of natural resources in Virginia under then-Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and an Interior official during the George W. Bush administration; Donald Tenpas, an attorney at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and a former top DOJ environmental attorney who is involved in the litigation challenging the Clean Power Plan; and State: Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation, a critic of the Paris Agreement on climate change signed by the Obama administration.”

So it’s hard to know what, exactly, to make of today’s statements.  My hope is that Trump’s own family, perhaps especially Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, whose own politics seem more mainstream than many of Trump’s professional advisors, are pushing him to reconsider his hardline stance.  Who emerges in the next week or so to lead EPA, Interior and the Department of Energy will provide a signal about whether today’s statements had real meaning or were just an empty gesture.



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Reader Comments

10 Replies to “Conflicting News about President-Elect Trump and Climate Change”

  1. As a reminder; in an earlier thread on this forum, ROBERT DRESDNER said:

    “……Easiest cheapest option with very little risk of bad press is for Trump to do exactly what every Administration has done so far: cut Agency budgets and staff, cut EPA oversight of state implementation, cut enforcement of rules and permits, undercut citizen suits with sweetheart settlements, look the other way on criminal violations, shelve rulemakings, and ignore statutory deadlines. My guess is that this is what Trump will do beginning from Day One–Step One. Step Two is push through all the aggressive, high visibility bad stuff eg relax rules, open door wide to pipelines and fracking…..”

  2. Thank you for reporting this “sliver of hope.”

    The 2016 elections proved that we most desperately need immediately implementable solutions from social scientists if we are going to have a chance to overcome our most destructive emotions that enable the increasing threats of global warming, violence and inequalities.

    The question remains, “Can We Adapt in Time?”

  3. South Texas To Get America’s Largest New Refinery Since ‘77:

    A Houston company is looking to pump $500 million into South Texas to create the largest new refinery in the U.S. in nearly 40 years. The facility will be able to process up to 50,000 barrels of Eagle Ford shale light crude oil a day, and will have up to 4 million barrels of available storage, the company said in a news release.

    Raven Petroleum says it will produce diesel, jet fuel, naphtha, gasoline, and liquified petroleum gas products to be exported via rail and possibly pipeline to Mexico. The project is slated to begin by the third quarter of 2017, and Raven Petroleum estimates construction could be completed by the end of 2018.

  4. Ann, you left out the next sentence in that quote: “It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies.”

    That second sentence is extremely worrisome. And shows what his real priorities are.

  5. Anthony said;
    “…..Scientists warn increasingly rapid melting could trigger polar ‘tipping points’ with catastrophic consequences felt as far away as the Indian Ocean…..”

    Dear Anthony,
    Hope all is well with you and your family. I had a ‘tipping point’ on Thanksgiving Day after a lot of good food and good spirits, fortunately there was no catastrophic consequences. Went to bed early and felt fine the next day. That is a great way to deal with tipping points and adapt to climate change. Cheers!

      1. Dear Anthony,
        It is becoming increasingly clear that the climate movement is in steep decline. Going forward, there will not be enough money to continue supporting the diverse cadre of climate practitioners now working. What shall they do when climate no longer intimidates and good science is in control?

        I have long discouraged young people from pursuing the field of climate change because so much of it is fake and it would eventually collapse and run out of money. Now we see the beginning of the end for the climate movement, this is going to be a hard hit on the climate industry in California, this gives new meaning to adaptation.

        Fortunately, I adapted to climate change about twenty years ago and I’m glad I did. Other folks refuse to adapt but I don’t care because it’s none of my business. No one else can do it for you. It’s a personal matter. If someone refuses to adapt then just leave them alone and don’t bother anyone. It’s time to move on and deal with substantive issues that really matter!

        1. BQRQ, I most sincerely hope that Legal Planet professors and scholars shall quickly find a way to convince you and all other deniers otherwise, especially since the increasingly rapid arctic ice melt has become an immediate, major threat to our future.

          Time for arguing has run out, an acceptable future for our newest generations now depends on their ability to successfully communicate and motivate people to demand political actions to protect the human race more than ever before.

          1. The position of people who deny that global warming is a reality is rather like that of Wiley Coyote when he steps off a cliff; as long as he doesn’t look down he won’t fall. Unfortunately, he eventually looks down.

            The physics of global warming are simple and the science dates back well over 100 years. Although fairly sophisticated modeling is needed to accurately gage detailed results, a simple model based on nothing by the laws of radiative heat transfer show that global warming is as inevitable as gravity (and actually better understood).

            This means that denying global warming requires either denying the basic laws of heat transfer (and so why do the boilers I have designed and the simulations of IR vision devices I have done for combat operations analysis work as well as they do, or even simpler, why does my IR thermometer work?), or inventing some other mechanism that counters the basic physics.

            I have heard a lot of comments from deniers, but nothing that would explain why a simple physics calculation that works for everything else uniquely doesn’t work for this fairly simple example of heat transfer (much simpler than a boiler or a tracked vehicle).

            Don’t look down!

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

READ more