Climate Desk
Artist’s rendering of Donald Trump’s EPA, c. 2019
Artist’s rendering of Donald Trump’s EPA, c. 2019| Nastco/iStock 

Look at All the Climate Change Deniers Vying for Jobs in the Trump Administration 

This can’t be good.  

Jeremy Schulman

Donald Trump is a global warming denier. He wants to "cancel" the Paris climate agreement and repeal the Clean Power Plan—the twin pillars of President Barack Obama's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. He's even promised to revive the coal industry, against all odds.

But Trump won't be able to do these things all by himself. To fulfill his campaign promise and reverse the steps of his predecessor in the fight against warming, he's going to need an entire administration of like-minded people. Environmental officials who reject climate science. National security officials who dismiss concerns that climate change will destabilize the world. Diplomats who oppose international climate agreements. Department heads who want to drill, baby, drill.

Here's a list of Trump appointees and possible appointees (drawn for the New York Times, Politico, E&E, and elsewhere) who deny climate change or who oppose or want to roll back efforts to deal with it. We'll update the list as the Trump transition continues. Be afraid.

Donald Trump

Position: President

Views on climate change:

  • We're going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule.
  • We're going to save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton's extremist agenda.
  • I'm going to ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
  • We're going to lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas
  • We're going to revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.
  • We're going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs. [Trump campaign website, accessed 11/16/16]

Mike Pence

Position: Vice president

Views on climate change: "Donald Trump and I have a plan to get this economy moving again…by lowering taxes across the board for working families, small businesses and family farms, ending the war on coal that is hurting jobs and hurting this economy even here in Virginia, repealing Obamacare lock, stock, and barrel, and repealing all of the executive orders that Barack Obama has signed that are stifling economic growth in this economy." [Vice Presidential debate, 10/5/16]

Reince Priebus

Position: Chief of staff

Views on climate change: "Democrats tell us they understand the world, but then they call climate change, not radical Islamic terrorism, the greatest threat to national security. Look, I think we all care about our planet, but melting icebergs aren't beheading Christians in the Middle East." [CPAC speech, 2/27/15]

Stephen Bannon

Position: Chief strategist and senior counselor

Views on climate change: "Do you agree with the pope and President Obama that [climate change] is absolutely a path to global suicide, if specific deals are not cut in Paris [at the international climate negotiations], versus focusing on radical Islam?" [Breitbart News Daily via the Washington Post, 12/1/15]

"The pope…has kind of fallen into this hysteria…Here you have the pope saying the world's near suicide if something doesn't happen in Paris." [Breitbart News Daily via Media Matters for America, 12/2/15]

Myron Ebell

Position: Head of EPA transition team—possible EPA administrator

Views on climate change: Ebell, a high-profile climate skeptic, is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a DC think tank that promotes "limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty." He has accused climate scientists of "manipulating and falsifying the data." The New York Times describes Ebell as "one of the most vocal opponents" of the EPA's Clean Power Plan.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

Position: Attorney general nominee

Views on climate change: "The balloon and satellite data track each other almost exactly, and it shows almost no warming. So what we're talking about is: The predictions aren't coming true." [Washington Watch via Right Wing Watch, 11/30/15]

Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state

Position: Head of transition team for domestic issues

Views on climate change: "Another false environmentalist narrative is the global warming hoax. A few decades back, environmentalist "scientists" started devising computer models that predicted man-made calamity—Manhattan submerged by rising Atlantic waters—within 10 or 15 years ago. It turns out the models were rigged, the data were falsified and, in fact, there has been no measurable warming for nearly 20 years. Most troubling of all, the lying scientists colluded to ruin the careers of honest scientists who tried to tell the truth." [Washington Times, 4/30/15]

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.)

Position: CIA director nominee

Views on climate change: "President Obama has called climate change the biggest national security threat of our lifetime, but he is horribly wrong. His unwillingness to acknowledge the true threat posed by Islamic extremism will get Americans killed. His perverse fixation on achieving his economically harmful environmental agenda instead of defeating the true threats facing the world shows just how out of sync his priorities are with Kansans and the American people." [Pompeo press release, 11/30/15]

John Bolton, former UN ambassador

Possible position: Secretary of State

Views on climate change: "Obama can achieve his climate change legacy only through delicate negotiations with Congress. His poor relations with the House and Senate, especially on foreign policy, appear to render success unlikely. Obama may rely on his unilateral authority to join a world climate pact [in Paris], but without Congress his most important promises will be empty ones whose fate will be left to his successor." [Los Angeles Times, 12/1/15]

Jan Brewer, former governor of Arizona

Possible positions: Secretary of Interior

Views on climate change: "Everybody has an opinion on [climate change], you know, and I probably don't believe that it's man made. I believe that, you know, that weather and certain elements are controlled maybe by different things." [Think Progress, 12/3/13]

Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas)

Possible positions: US Supreme Court justice

Views on climate change: "If you are a…liberal politician who wants government power, if that is your driving urge—government power over the American citizenry—then climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory. Why is that? Because it can never be disproven…The climate is always changing. It has been changing from the beginning of time." [Cruz campaign event via the Washington Post, 2/3/16]

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (Ret.)

Possible position: National security adviser

Views on climate change: "And here we have the President of the United States up in Canada talking about climate change. I mean, God, we just had the largest attack...on our own soil in Orlando. Why aren't we talking about that? Who is talking about that? I mean, Fort Hood, Chattanooga, Boston, people forget about 9/11!" [Fox News, 6/29/16]

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the house

Possible position: "I want to be the senior planner for the entire federal government, and I want a letter from you that says Newt Gingrich is authorized to go to any program in any department, examine it and report directly to the president." [Hill, 7/20/16]

Views on climate change: Gingrich used to be in favor of taking action on climate change, even appearing in an ad on the subject with Nancy Pelosi and voicing support for a cap-and-trade carbon pricing system. He later called his participation in the ad "dumb" and opposed the cap-and-trade bill backed by Obama in 2009. Last year, Politico reported that Gingrich "said it should not be a given for politicians to assume that climate change is man-made. 'I don't think it should be a given. The truth is, I think we don't know. There’s a difference between political science and science,' he said."

Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor

Possible positions: Secretary of State, secretary of Homeland Security

Views on climate change: "The president's wrong in linking somehow by fixing climate change if he's gonna fix it, he's gonna fix terrorism. That's absurd. There's no connection between the two things. Where it's like two different things. It's like saying I'm gonna fix terrorism by curing cancer." [Fox News via CNS News, 12/2/15]

Gov. Nikki Haley (S.C.)

Possible positions: Secretary of State

Views on climate change: "'[The Clean Power Plan] is exactly what we don't need,' the governor said after addressing a gathering of the SC Electric Cooperatives at Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms. 'This is exactly what hurts us. You can't mandate utility companies which, in turn, raises the cost of power. That's what's going to keep jobs away. That's what's going to keep companies away.' She added that officials in Washington 'stay out of the way.'…'We need to be able to do our jobs and continue to recruit companies and recruit jobs without additional mandates,' Haley said." [The Post and Courier, 6/3/14]

Harold Hamm, oil and gas executive

Possible positions: Secretary of Interior, secretary of Energy

Views on climate change: "Obama imposed punitive regulations to stop this [oil and gas] renaissance, and in his administration's very own words, they want to crucify America's oil and natural gas producers…President Trump will release America's pent-up energy potential, get rid of foreign oil, trash punitive regulations, create millions of jobs, and develop our most strategic geopolitical weapon: crude oil…Every time we can't drill a well in America, terrorism is being funded…Climate change isn't our biggest problem; it's Islamic terrorism. Every onerous regulation puts American lives at risk." [Republican National Convention, 7/20/16]

Bonus—Views on earthquake science: "Oil tycoon Harold Hamm told a University of Oklahoma dean last year that he wanted certain scientists there dismissed who were studying links between oil and gas activity and the state's nearly 400-fold increase in earthquakes, according to the dean's e-mail recounting the conversation. Hamm, the billionaire founder and chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources, is a major donor to the university, which is the home of the Oklahoma Geological Survey. He has vigorously disputed the notion that he tried to pressure the survey's scientists. 'I'm very approachable, and don't think I'm intimidating,' Hamm was quoted as saying in an interview with EnergyWire, an industry publication, that was published on May 11. 'I don't try to push anybody around.'" [Bloomberg, 5/15/15]

Jeffrey Holmstead, energy industry lobbyist

Possible position: EPA administrator

Views on climate change: Holmstead, an assistant EPA administrator under President George W. Bush, told a Senate committee in 2015: "Given the implementation schedule that EPA has proposed for [the Clean Power Plan], it will be implemented almost entirely by the next administration. And when the next administration takes office in January 2017, it is virtually certain that the litigation over the legality of the CPP will still be going on, so that the new administration will need to decide whether to defend and implement the CPP as finalized under the Obama Administration…For legal, practical, and political reasons, it would be relatively easy for a new administration to modify or simply revoke the CPP altogether and start from scratch with a more legally defensive approach…The process that led to the 1990 Amendments [to the Clean Air Act] is instructive. It shows what an administration can do—even when both Houses of Congress are controlled by the opposing party—to get legislation through Congress when such legislation is a priority for the President. In my view, it is a shame that the Obama Administration has not made this type of effort when it comes to climate change legislation and has instead pursued an ill-advised and almost certainly illegal regulatory approach."

Laura Ingraham, radio host

Possible position: Press secretary

Views on climate change: "This entire effort [the Paris climate negotiations] is about setting up global rules of governance. Rules that will, if instituted—which we know they won't be—but if ever instituted would mean that we have less control over our own destiny as a country than we do today. Because Congress will have limited ability to change any treaty. Again, I don't think it's going to happen. But if these rules should go into place, we should expect the same compliance from countries like China that we get from China in deals like the World Trade Organization and the World Trade Organization Treaty. So, if people want less sovereignty in the United States, less independence, less oversight, our congressional authority to be meaningful, then we should all be excited about what's going on with 150 leaders in Paris. But this has nothing to do with terrorism. It has everything to do with bringing America's economy down, hurting the fossil fuel industry, etc., etc.—one of the few sectors that's actually growing jobs and still paying people decent wages in the United States. So forgive me if I'm not all hot and bothered by the Paris events." [Fox News via Media Matters, 12/1/15]

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)

Possible position: Secretary of Homeland Security

Views on climate change: "'Within the Department of Homeland Security, more money, in fact, millions of dollars, are dedicated to climate change rather than combating what I consider to be one of the biggest threats to the homeland, and that's the violent extremists radicalizing Islamist terrorists radicalizing over the Internet in the United States of America,' [McCaul said.]…That is a very narrow comparison. It concerns only the Homeland Security Department and only programs designed to prevent Islamic extremists' use of the Internet. Within that limited frame, McCaul's comparison holds up. However, any complete analysis would show that federal departments and agencies spend significantly more money targeting terrorists than they do targeting climate change." [Politifact, 5/14/15]

Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia attorney general

Possible position: EPA administrator

Views on climate change: "Morrisey has become one of the leading Attorneys General in the fight against President Obama’s overreaching, illegal EPA regulations. In February 2016, under Morrisey’s leadership, the Supreme Court halted implementation of Obama's signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, in an unprecedented win for AG Morrisey and the 28 other state Attorneys General." [Morrisey campaign website, accessed 11/16/16]

Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska

Possible positions: Secretary of Interior

Views on climate change: "I want people to be empowered to ask questions about what is being fed them from the scientific community, that something's not making a whole lot of sense when it comes to inconsistent data that is being produced and being fed, especially to our children, when it comes to global warming or climate change—whatever they're calling it today…It's a problem right from the start when you're led to believe that 97 percent of scientists all agree that there is a consensus on global warming." [Guardian, 4/15/16]

Rick Perry, former governor of Texas

Possible positions: Secretary of Energy

Views on climate change: "I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think that there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change…The cost to the country and to the world of implementing these anti-carbon programs is in the billions, if not trillions, of dollars at the end of the day. And I don't think, from my perspective, that I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven and, from my perspective, is more and more being put into question." [Perry campaign speech via CBS News, 8/17/11]

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general

Possible position: EPA administrator, secretary of Interior

Views on climate change: "The EPA does not possess the authority under the Clean Air Act to accomplish what it proposes in the unlawful Clean Power Plan. The EPA is ignoring the authority granted by Congress to states to regulate power plant emissions at their source. The Clean Power Plan is an unlawful attempt to expand federal bureaucrats' authority over states' energy economies in order to shutter coal-fired power plants and eventually other sources of fossil-fuel generated electricity." [Pruitt press release, 7/1/15]