Burr & Forman

12.5.2017   |   Blog Articles, Climate Change, Environmental Law Matters

Putting an End to the Climate Change Debate — More or Less

President Trump has promised that his Administration will resolve any continuing debate on climate change. On the front line of the effort, the President’s EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, has moved to eliminate climate change as a basis for regulatory actions. (USA Today). As an example, Pruitt has made a concerted effort to eliminate any significant restriction or limitation on the use of coal. Although interestingly, the chief of Murray Energy, the largest privately held coal mining company in the U.S., has previously advised Trump against promising a comeback for the coal industry and particularly its jobs. (The Guardian, March 27, 2017)

The President has also nominated a prominent climate denier for a position on the President’s Council on Environmental Quality. Last week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White sending her nomination to the floor for consideration by the full Senate. Ms. White is known from her days as an environmental regulator in Texas for a variety of interesting policy positions, including labeling the belief in climate change as ‘paganism’ and for questioning the health risks of long-regulated gases such as ozone. (The Hill)

On the other hand, the President has not completely eliminated all vestiges of concern at the federal level with respect to this issue. For example, his nominee to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Barry Myers, testified in his Senate confirmation hearing that he has no reason to disagree with reports indicating that humans are the primary driver of climate change. (Climate Pick Breaks with Trump). Myers is currently the CEO of AccuWeather.

And the effort has apparently not yet reached NASA. A recent look at NASA’s webpage regarding climate continues to indicate that there is general scientific consensus that the earth’s temperatures are rising and that humans are a significant contributing factor. Nor does the Administration’s position on the matter change the actual circumstances that the U.S. military or local communities believe they are facing. (Pentagon Fights Sea Level Rise, Norfolk Facing Costly Flood Protection Plan)

Clearly, the efforts of the Administration to stifle claims of climate change have not been wholly successful. Perhaps, in the spirit of the holiday season, the President may want to consider giving the gift of certainty by simply issuing an Executive Order declaring that the alleged condition is merely fake science.

Happy Holidays.

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