Republican nominee Donald Trump’s reputation as a climate-denier is well known. He’s previously said that it was a “bullsh*t” hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to weaken American industries and has promised to pull America out of the historic Paris climate change treaty, which has prompted the rest of the international community to fast-track its implementation and put it into effect by November 4th.
So it’s no surprise that the ignorant rabble-rouser would appoint someone deeply entwined in the fossil fuel industry to lead his energy team. The Washington Post reports that Trump has chosen Mike Catanzaro, a former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official under the George W. Bush administration and was an energy advisor to former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH).
After his time in politics, he strolled through the revolving door to become a fracking lobbyist for a number of energy firms, including both the notorious war profiteer Halliburton and the insidious puppeteers at Koch Industries. Both those companies are devoted to reeling back the protective regulations, especially the Clean Water Act, that the Obama administration has put into place to safeguard our environment and our natural resources from the machinations of predatory corporations.
The appointment also is a huge show of hypocrisy from Trump, who complains about a “rigged” lobbyist system but is now employing those same lobbyists to write his policies for him. “The fact that Trump has lobbyists intimately involved on key issues on which they lobby raises questions about what he means when he says the system is rigged. He’s playing the same game” says Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center.
“It raises the question of whether he’s already opened the revolving door, If you have people with these industry ties, profound ties to the very industries that are going to be regulated, then how can the American people be confident that government will serve their interests and not these huge corporate interests” says White House special counsel Norman Eisen.
Donald Trump has already shown he has almost no interest in formulating any actual policy proposals, which would mean he’s likely to blindly accept whatever the fossil fuel lobbyists present him – which would mean disaster for the environment and the public’s health.
As a climate-change empowered Hurricane Matthew prepares to slam into Florida and cause massive damage, the need to cut back on fossil fuel production has never been greater.
“We expect to see more high-intensity events, Category 4 and 5 events, that are around 13% of total hurricanes but do a disproportionate amount of damage” says MIT professor Kerry Emanuel. Professor Michael Mann adds that “last year was the warmest our oceans have ever been on record. And that’s critical context. It’s that warmth that provides the energy that intensifies these storms. And it isn’t a coincidence that we’ve seen the strongest hurricane in both hemispheres within the last year.”‘
Unless we act now to stop the onset of irreversible climate change, the damage we will take from natural disasters is going to drastically increase – and it’s the American people who will bear the brunt of it. The CEOs of multinational oil corporations aren’t going to lift a finger to help alleviate the destruction that they caused.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.