Carbon emerges as big winner of 2016
But there’s one big winner of Transition 2017: carbon.
Fossil fuel enthusiasts are thrilled by President-elect Trump, a candidate who claimed climate change was “a hoax” and promised to obliterate President Obama’s environmental regulations. The nomination of Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, was a particularly big coup for the industry. Pruitt has emerged as one of the top opponents of EPA regulations, taking the Obama Administration to court numerous times. Pruitt has close ties to the energy sector– it was discovered that his legal documents addressed to the federal government were often drafted by industry players. He has defended the industry vigorously, because like Trump, Pruitt believes climate science is illegitimate.
Carbon hawks are also enthused by expected Cabinet picks Rex Tillerson and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Tillerson, likely to be nominated Secretary of State, is CEO of the oil giant ExxonMobil, and has navigated trouble spots around the globe. He is also skeptical of the impact of climate change, though his view is coupled with Exxon’s recognition that the phenomenon is real and dangerous. His confirmation might align American foreign policy more closely with oil, but his elevation is jeopardized by his close ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin.
McMorris Rodgers, a GOP Congresswoman from Washington State, is expected to be nominated as Interior Secretary, a position that would put her in command of 10% of the nation’s land. Rodgers has supported the privatization of federal land and the opening of such territory to increased drilling. She has an “F” rating from the National Parks Action Fund.
These picks, combined with Trump’s personal connections to fossil fuels– he owns hundreds of thousands of dollars of the company promoting the Dakota Access Pipeline– is a potent combination for those bullish on fossil fuels. Already, companies such as TransCanada hope to revive unsuccessful projects such as Keystone XL.
UPDATE: Corrected that Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ rating is from the National Parks Action Fund, not the National Parks Conservation Association.