Working towards peace and sustainability

Putting Foxes in Charge of the Coop

Many critical issues face our nation today, but arguably none with greater consequence for all future generations than the Climate Crisis. Truly, only nuclear war could lead to greater irreversible damage. And, while nuclear war is still a distinct possibility that must be avoided, climate change is a present reality. It is happening right now, as we write—as you read this—and unless addressed promptly, is likely to result in passing tipping points that will condemn our progeny to a devastated environment, more frequent extreme weather events including super-storms, rising sea levels inundating coastal regions, huge fires, droughts, massive crop failures, hundreds of millions of climate refugees, unprecedented extinctions and more.

We absolutely cannot afford four years of inaction or backtracking on climate.

While many Trump appointments are troubling, we are most disturbed by his picks for key administration positions dealing with climate and energy concerns. Peaceworks urges Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt to do everything in their power to challenge appointees who are clearly both unqualified and disinclined to serve as protectors of our environment and climate.(Click on their names to contact them on-line, or click HERE for more contact info.)

These appointees not only have questionable qualifications in terms of knowledge and experience. They also have established track records of working to oppose the work of the agencies they’ve been tapped to lead.
Pictured here are Scott Pruitt, Rex Tillerson and Rick Perry. Thanks to Common Dreams for the photo.
Topping the list is Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. He’s been tapped to head the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency he’s opposed at every turn for years. A climate change skeptic with heavy backing from the fossil fuel industry, Pruitt took the lead in organizing a legal challenge to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

It’s not just the CPP he’s opposed. Pruitt has sued the EPA over soot and smog pollution rules and over limits on emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gases, etc. from power plants.  He’s a close ally of several fossil fuel companies and was exposed for having submitted to the EPA and other Federal agencies, as his own, letters that were actually written by Devon Energy lobbyists. Pruitt is a strong backer of fracking and nearly half of his PAC funding comes from the energy industry. He has made it clear that he seeks to dismantle the EPA’s programs that address the Climate Crisis. These programs, while not nearly adequate, are today the backbone of the American response to climate change. Dismantling them would put the entire Paris Climate Accord in jeopardy.

For the Department of Energy, Trump has chosen former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who, when running for president, famously called for eliminating the DoE, along with two other departments. When asked in a debate, couldn’t recall the name of one department he wanted to shutter. You guessed it, it was the DoE.

Unlike Obama’s DoE heads, both distinguished physicists, Perry has no expertise in the field of energy, nor in the realm of nuclear weapons and waste, which are actually the DoE’s biggest areas of responsibility.

Perry does have a long history of receiving financial support from the fossil fuel industry and he currently serves on the boards of directors of both Sunoco Logistics Partners and Energy Transfer Partners. The latter is the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), in which Donald Trump happens to own stock. Given his deep involvement in fossil fuels, can we really expect Rick Perry to take the lead in moving us to a post-carbon, climate-friendly energy economy?

And then there’s Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee to head the State Department. Here we’re looking at someone who has spent their entire career working for one company, ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the world, and has served as their CEO for the past ten years.

In 2015 investigative journalists discovered that his company has been aware, since the 1970s, of the role fossil fuels are playing in altering the Earth’s climate, but had suppressed internal research and, at the same time, was uniquely aggressive in funding climate change deniers. On Tillerson’s watch the company has continued to drag its feet, rather than move forward to a post-fossil fuel energy system.

While the Secretary of State doesn’t determine energy policy, Tillerson, who has no public service or diplomatic experience, would be responsible for negotiating climate agreements and trade agreements that involve fossil fuels. Is it really possible for someone who is deeply committed to continuing to explore for and extract more dirty fuels, to recognize and support the need for a rapid phase-out of these climate-altering fuels?

The incoming Trump administration is not just in denial of the crisis we face, but is committed to putting extreme deniers in charge of U.S. energy and climate policy. This is a classic case of putting foxes in charge of the coop and must be opposed for our sake and the sake of future generations. If you share our concerns, we urge you to contact your senators now (Click HERE).