Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the Republican conference, is the the highest ranking woman in Republican leadership. Representing eastern Washington, she also serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Photo by Gage Skidmore.
For anyone who saw Al Gore’s meeting with Ivanka and Donald Trump at Trump tower the other day as a potential sign that there might be a cute calf under the pile of what Trump has called climate change “bullshit,” you can stop digging now.
For Secretary of Interior, Trump has picked Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from eastern Washington, a climate change denier with a zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters. She has called for more oil and gas exploration on both public lands and Native American tribal lands. McMorris Rodgers was a co-sponsor of a 2011 bill that would have sold off 3 million acres of public lands. She has also worked against EPA protections of wetlands and streams under the Clean Water Act, held hearings critical of the National Environmental Protection Act, and claims the Endangered Species Act is costing the hydroelectric industry too much money to protect wild salmon. No wonder Seattle PI columnist Joel Connelly wrote McMorris Rogers’ “never met a wilderness she did like.”
In her free time she has opposed marriage equality and the Violence Against Women Act, offering a watered down alternative.
Following up on the appointment of professional climate denier Myron Ebell to run the EPA transition team, Trump has named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head up the agency. Another climate denier and fierce EPA opponent with a history of suing the agency over carbon pollution rules, Pruitt has received major campaign donations from oil and gas companies. One of his three-page letters of complaint to the EPA over air pollution caused by gas drilling turned out to have been written by lawyers for Devon Energy, a major oil and gas company in his state.
Pruitt has also fought the EPA over provisions of the Clean Water Act that protects wetlands and creeks, suing on behalf of big ag polluters and developers.
While one of a cartel of more than a dozen Republican States Attorney Generals who are working with the energy industry to stifle federal environmental regulations, according to a 2014 New York Times report Pruitt’s also been accused of failing to take legal action to protect Oklahoma state residents impacted by swarms of fracking induced earthquakes. Oklahoma, a seismically inactive area before gas fracking operations began had 857 earthquakes last year, more than the rest of the continental U.S. combined.
In his election campaign, Donald Trump called the EPA, created by President Richard Nixon in 1970, a “disgrace,” adding, “We can leave a little bit [of environmental protection], but you can't destroy business.” Pruitt's job will be to make sure there is as little environmental protection as possible.
David Helvarg is an author and executive director of Blue Frontier, an ocean conservation group, and author of The Golden Shore: California’s Love Affair with the Sea.