Saturday, December 03, 2016

Groups Raise Alarm over Climate Denial Creeping into Trump's Team

Environmental organizations wrote a letter urging Senators to oppose Trump nominees who have a history of disregarding science.

Donald Trump is said to be considering former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for several administration posts including Secretary of Interior. (Credit: Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
As Donald Trump's transition unfolds, the names of more climate science deniers emerge daily as contenders for cabinet spots.  This prompted leaders of 30 environmental groups on Thursday to urge the Senate to block nominees who would reverse progress on global warming.

"If the president-elect...chooses to nominate individuals who deny climate science or would seek to gut our bedrock environmental protections or roll back recent climate progress, we urge you to vote against their confirmation," they said in a letter sent to senators.  "Climate change is one of the most pressing domestic and global challenges we face, and the president-elect's nominees should recognize the need for immediate action."

Blocking Trump's nominees will be an uphill battle, because only a simple majority of the Senate is required to approve them.  Republicans will have a 51-48 majority and Vice President Mike Pence will be able to break a tie, so at least three GOP votes would be needed to sink a nominee.  In the past it took 60 votes to confirm presidential nominees, but new rules adopted by the Senate in 2013 changed that.  Only nominations to the Supreme Court face the 60-vote hurdle.

It is a bitter pill for Senate Democrats, who lowered the bar when they were in the majority and were frustrated by the GOP blocking President Obama's nominees.  Under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, they pushed through a rule allowing presidential appointees, except for Supreme Court nominees, to be approved by simple majority.  Now Trump will benefit from that lower bar.

Although Trump has not yet named nominees for the key environmental posts leading the Environmental Protection Agency, or the departments of Energy and Interior, the rumored names are deeply concerning to many environmentalists, said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president for government affairs for the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), one of the organizations that coordinated the letter.

She said the letter purposefully did not name names.  But Trump met with several potential EPA nominees in the past two weeks who have been outspoken critics of environmental regulation.
In their appeal to the Senate, it is clear that environmentalists are hoping to win over at least some GOP votes to block Trump nominees.  "There is a broad and bipartisan acceptance among the American people of the scientific facts that climate change is real and that it is greatly impacted by human activities," they said.

Read more at Groups Raise Alarm over Climate Denial Creeping into Trump's Team

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