President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team continues to roll out members of its so-called landing teams, staffers charged with orchestrating agency handoffs to the incoming administration. For top energy and environmental posts, the list includes staunch critics of the Obama administration’s environmental policies, energy industry advocates and Republican aides from Capitol Hill.
Environmental groups yesterday projected images and messages onto a U.S. EPA building to protest President-elect Donald Trump’s pick of Myron Ebell, a climate denier, to lead the agency’s transition. Images of a green planet, icebergs and flames swirled across the face of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, an office building near the Federal Triangle in downtown Washington, during the evening rush hour.
President-elect Donald Trump seemed to soften his stance on the Paris climate agreement today, saying he has “an open mind” after previously pledging to withdraw from the accord. Trump met with New York Times reporters and editors in the newspaper’s headquarters today for an on-the-record lunch. Columnist Thomas Friedman asked Trump whether he would withdraw from the accord.
Wind and solar have been the two biggest sources of electricity added to U.S. grids since 2014 as utilities closed a record number of aging coal-fired generators. Trump has derided clean energy and assailed environmental regulations that hinder jobs, while pledging to revive the mining industry. And it’s not just cost that makes clean energy attractive to utilities — it’s time. A solar farm can go up in months to meet incremental increases in utility demand; it takes years to permit, finance and build the giant boilers and exhaust systems that make up a coal plant, and they can last for a generation. A four-year presidential term is hardly a tick in that energy clock, and companies are already planning projects that will commence after Trump leaves office, even if he serves two terms.
The transition team announced yesterday that Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, will be taking over as head of the Energy Department transition operation. Doug Domenech, former Virginia secretary of natural resources and a George W. Bush administration Interior Department staffer, will lead Interior’s transition operation. The Trump team said Myron Ebell, a well-known climate skeptic and the head of the U.S. EPA transition operation, continues to lead that agency’s team.
President-elect Donald Trump’s meetings yesterday with possible Interior and Energy secretary picks have already sparked a backlash from the left. Trump was scheduled to meet with Oklahoma Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and former Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who are rumored contenders to become Interior and Energy secretaries, respectively. Environmentalists were quick to paint the potential nominees as industry cronies who would seek to dismantle environmental regulations and push energy extraction on public lands.
Senate energy reform bill conferees are reviewing a Friday counteroffer from House negotiators, as efforts to break a decade long stalemate on major energy legislation come down to the wire. The House proposal “reflects policies that represent the current bipartisan consensus in the House,” said House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) in a joint statement Friday evening.
She dismissed worries that much of EPA’s work under President Obama will be wiped clean from the history books by President-elect Donald Trump, noting the private sector had already begun moving to clean energy and a low-carbon economy long before EPA issued its controversial Clean Power Plan to reduce power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions. “The train to a global, clean energy future has already left the station,” McCarthy said.
Trump has bashed wind energy on the campaign trail, raising concerns about its cost, and called global warming, a driving force to switch to energy generation that creates fewer greenhouse gases, a hoax perpetuated by China. That could spell trouble for Iowa, a wind energy leader that now gets more than one-third of its power from spinning blades. But alternative energy advocates say the state is now a poster child for clean energy’s economic and environmental benefits, especially in rural areas, where Trump’s core supporters live.
When President-elect Donald J. Trump met with the British politician Nigel Farage in recent days, he encouraged Mr. Farage and his entourage to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses, according to one person present. The meeting, held shortly after the presidential election, raises new questions about Mr. Trump’s willingness to use the power of the presidency to advance his business interests. Mr. Trump has long opposed a wind farm planned near his course in Aberdeenshire, and he previously fought unsuccessfully all the way to Britain’s highest court to block it.