Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Trump's Swamp is Full of Fossil Fuel Advocates

The Trump administration is awash with fossil fuel lobbyists and advocates. Republicans are the minions of the oil industry and Trump's swamp is full of it's supporters. This administration is rife with industry influence from the initial beachhead team to cabinet secretaries. The Trump transition team was chalked full of operatives tied to climate denying Koch Industries. Some of these people came from the Institute for Energy Research, which wrote Trump's insane energy policy. Other early members of the Trump administration are Mark Maddox, a coal company lobbyist and Kerrie Carr, who worked for the coal industry.

Trump's "Landing Team" was led by Koch lobbyist Thomas Pyle. He is president of the American Energy Alliance a propaganda machine funded by ExxonMobil and Koch Industries. Pyle was replaced by a handful of young ideologues who called themselves "the Beachhead Team." According to a former DOE staffer quoted by Vanity Fair, "these people were insane...They weren’t prepared. They didn’t know what they were doing."

Unlike the Beachhead Team, Trump's picks for key posts knew exactly what they were doing. They immediately went to work eviscerating regulations and clearing the way to ratchet up fossil fuel extraction. Some of the key players in this deregulatory orgy were Scott Pruitt as the Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ryan Zinke as the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Rick Perry as the Secretary of the Department of Energy.   


When Trump picked Pruitt to lead the EPA it was widely viewed as putting the fox in the hen-house. Leaked emails reveal Pruitt's anti-regulation industry advocacy and his pro-polluter agenda. It quickly became clear that Pruitt was using his authority to decimate environmental protections and climate action at the agency. He waged war against both science and scientists and he lied to kill the Clean Power Plan.  He did succeed in destroying a raft of EPA regulations and his murderous legacy will be felt for generations. Pruitt was forced to resign in disgrace, but he was replaced by Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist.


Shortly after being picked by Trump Zinke used his authority at the Department of the Interior to hire climate denying oil and gas industry alumni.  A report from The Union of Concerned Scientists explores how Zinke has "turned Interior from a steward of public lands and natural resources into a front for the mining and oil and gas industries." Like Pruitt, Zinke was forced to resign in disgrace over ethics violations but he was replaced by David Bernhardt, another fossil fuel industry lobbyist who is responsible for revoking directives on integrating climate science and other devious techniques to undermine science in the department.


Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is a long-time fossil fuel advocate. He quickly assembled a team of fossil fuel supporters including assistants Michael Brown and Suzanne Jaworowski who previously worked with the fracking industry and the coal industry. Doug Matheney, another assistant to Perry worked as the state coordinator for the Count on Coal initiative. He also worked as a coordinator for the Koch-funded front group Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

ProPublica has published a list of more than 1000 lobbyists hired by Trump. 

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