WASHINGTON — Myron Ebell, the longtime climate-science denier who led President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team until Trump’s inauguration, says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is among the “swamp creatures” that have infiltrated the president’s administration.
Speaking Friday at a climate conference hosted by the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, Ebell took issue with Tillerson voicing support for keeping the United States in the historic Paris climate agreement — a pact Trump has promised to withdraw the U.S. from.
“Rex Tillerson thinks it’s really nice to be able to go to international meetings and pal around with his fellow foreign ministers,” he said. “Tillerson may be from Texas and he may have been CEO of Exxon, but he’s part of the swamp.”
Ebell stopped just short of putting Trump’s elder daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, in the same category of “swamp creatures” the president had promised to chase out of Washington.
“I’m sorry to say that we’ve heard that the president’s daughter and son-in-law also support staying in Paris,” he said. “I don’t know that they really want to be identified as swamp creatures, and I’m not going to do so. But I do think that at some point it needs to be pointed out to President Trump and his administration that the people who elected Donald J. Trump are not wealthy Manhattanites, including his children.”
Ebell said he’s been impressed with Trump’s swift efforts to implement many of the promises he made on energy, climate and the environment. But he sees an ongoing problem.
“Swamp creatures are still there,” Ebell said. “They are trying to infiltrate the administration, and some of them are succeeding.”
Last week, the White House unveiled its preliminary skinny budget, which calls for deep cuts to climate and environmental programs, including slashing the EPA’s funding by 31 percent, from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion. At Friday’s conference, Ebell called this a “huge” percentage that would require eliminating 3,200 out of 14,700 positions, drawing applause from the audience.
“Remember, President Trump said during the campaign more than once that he hoped to abolish the agency, he’d like to abolish it,” Ebell said. “Well, 31 percent’s a good start, isn’t it?”
Ebell has been vocal about his disgust for the environmental movement. In January, he described it as the “greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world.”
Trump, who has dismissed climate change as “bullshit” and a Chinese “hoax,” pledged in May to pull the U.S. out of the historic Paris climate agreement ― a promise that didn’t sit well with hundreds of American businesses or many of the world’s leading scientists, including famed physicist Stephen Hawking.