Donald Trump has picked Myron Ebell to lead the transition at the Environmental Protection Agency, an organization whose mission is to “protect human health and the environment.”
Ebell will play a pivotal role in choosing EPA personnel and help shape the future of government agencies that address climate and environmental policy.
But here’s the rub: The 63-year-old is no environmental steward. A noted climate contrarian, he’s spent decades trying to dispel what he calls the “myths of global warming,” defending the use of fossil fuels and shutting down any climate policy that would diminish dependence on them. And he’s expressed great pride at being one of world’s most reviled “climate criminals.”
By Tuesday morning, more than 88,000 people had signed a White House petition calling for Ebell to be ousted from his role as Trump’s EPA advisor. “Do not let a man who denies science in the name of profit lead the nation in environmental protection,” the petition reads.
Ebell has been called the “perfect” person to oversee the EPA’s transition for a president-elect who has described climate change as “bullshit” and a “hoax.” Trump has vowed to dismantle the EPA and withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement to reduce the impact of climate change.
The next four years could spell disaster for the environment.
A new United Nations report shows we’re already hurtling rapidly toward 2 degrees Celsius, the global temperature increase scientists say the world must stay below to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
With or without Trump, it’s critical that the world stays on course with prompt and comprehensive climate action.
Given this, here are 11 troubling facts you need to know about Ebell:
“There has been a little bit of warming ... but it’s been very modest and well within the range for natural variability, and whether it’s caused by human beings or not, it’s nothing to worry about,” Ebell told
Vanity Fair in 2007.
More than 97 percent of scientists
agree that the world's climate is warming and it’s caused by human activities. Yet Ebell believes this consensus of climate experts is “phony” and “not based on science.”
In 2015, Ebell called
Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change
“scientifically ill informed, economically illiterate, intellectually incoherent and morally obtuse.”
“It is also theologically suspect, and large parts of it are leftist drivel,” he added.
In a 2006 opinion piece, titled “Love Global Warming
,” Ebell waxed lyrical about the potential “benefits” of climate change.
“Yes, rising sea levels, if they happen, would be bad for a lot of people. But a warming trend would be good for other people,” he wrote.
There would be “fewer and less severe big winter storms,” he claimed. And “life in many places would become more pleasant. Instead of 20 below zero in January in Saskatoon, it might be only 10 below. And I don’t think too many people would complain if winters in Minneapolis became more like winters in Kansas City.”
Ebell’s op-ed was full of fallacies.
For one, according to the EPA (which, again, is the agency that Ebell has been tapped to lead the transition of), climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including winter storms
A self-described “policy wonk,” Ebell has no scientific experience. He graduated from Colorado College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and later studied political theory in the London School of Economics.
When President Barack Obama unveiled the Clean Power Plan
in August last year, it was hailed as the strongest action ever taken by a U.S. commander in chief to combat climate change. The plan, which gives the EPA the authority to regulate carbon pollution from power plants, aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 32 percent by 2030.
Ebell has called the plan “illegal
.” He said last year that he hoped the next president would “undo the EPA power plant regs and some of the other regs that are very harmful to our economy.”
Ebell, as the head of the EPA transition, is now “in a position to begin to do just that
," The New York Times notes.
Ebell directs environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
, a libertarian advocacy group that “questions global warming alarmism and opposes energy-rationing policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, cap-and-trade legislation, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions,” according to its website.
The CEI has a long track record of taking money from the fossil fuel industry. It received $2 million
from ExxonMobil from 1998 to 2005, according to Vanity Fair.
The Washington Post reported
in 2013 that Marathon Petroleum, Koch Industries, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers were among the donors for CEI’s annual dinner.
Murray Energy Corporation, America’s largest underground coal mining company (and a critic and litigant
of the EPA), was the biggest energy donor of the night.
When asked about this on C-Span in 2015, Ebell — who had at first insisted that he doesn’t “represent” companies — admitted that he wasn’t getting as much money from energy firms as he’d like.
“I’d like to see a lot more funding
from all of those companies, but unfortunately many of the coal companies are now going bankrupt,” he said. “I would like to have more funding so that I can combat the nonsense put out by the environmental movement.”
Ebell previously “helped propel a shift in the political debate around climate change, contributing to the collapse of cap-and-trade legislation
in Congress in 2009,” according to Frontline.
The bill, which Ebell called a “disaster
,” would have seen limits set on the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted nationally.
The Cooler Heads Coalition, an ad-hoc group that Ebell leads, says its mission is “dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis.”
How Hwee Young/Getty Images
The Paris Agreement, which came into force on Nov. 4, is the most significant climate accord ever signed.
Ebell has been a vocal critic of the deal, calling Obama’s joining of the treaty “unconstitutional
Jeremy Symons, senior advisor of the Environmental Defense Fund, says Ebell was involved in a "broad campaign" in the 1990s to help tobacco company Philip Morris make "regulating the tobacco industry ‘politically unpalatable.'"
Philip Morris also funded Ebell's group CEI in the 1990s
. At the time, CEI was pushing the idea of “safer cigarettes
In a biography Ebell himself submitted
when he testified before Congress, he boasted that he'd been listed by Greenpeace as a "climate criminal" and global warming "misleader" by Rolling Stone magazine.
"The Clean Air Trust in March 2001 named Mr. Ebell its 'Villain of the Month' for his role in convincing the Bush Administration not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions," the bio continued.