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By now it shouldn't be a surprise that the Trump administration is wiping Obama-era climate initiatives off the Internet.

This time, the Department of Energy (DOE) has significantly altered its websites on renewable energy, removing references on how clean energy technologies can reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels and help lower climate-changing emissions.

The DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy—which could face deep funding cuts under Trump's budget proposal—has made "extensive changes and reorganizations" on websites for the Bioenergy Technologies Office, the Wind Energy Technologies Office and the Vehicle Technologies Office, according to the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), a coalition of academics and nonprofits that has tracked changes to federal websites ever since Donald Trump took office.

Environmental Data and Governance Initiative

As The Washington Post explained:

"Under the Obama administration, these offices' websites emphasized the importance of cutting down on U.S. carbon emissions and reducing the nation's dependence on fossil fuels—a message in keeping with President Barack Obama's push to address climate change.

"But with the Trump administration de-emphasizing climate change and looking to promote climate-friendly and carbon-intensive energy sources—an agenda that coincides with a broad attempt to eliminate regulations on fossil fuels and particularly on coal—the priorities outlined on these offices' Web pages have been shifting since the inauguration."

For instance, on the wind technology office page, this sentence was entirely removed:

"Wind power is an emission-free and water-free renewable energy source that is a key component to the Administration's renewable electricity generation goals."

Instead, the new wording emphasizes the potential of wind for U.S. jobs and economic growth. For example, this sentence was added:

"Wind energy currently supports more than 100,000 U.S. jobs, and wind turbine technician is the nation's fastest-growing occupation. According to industry experts, the U.S. wind industry is expected to drive over $85 billion in economic activity from 2017 to 2020, and wind-related employment is expected to reach 248,000 jobs in all 50 states by 2020."

This, of course, is true. The renewable energy sector has been a major boon to the nation's job growth and even the DOE can't ignore that.

However, the Rick Perry-led agency gives little weight to the clear environmental benefits of renewable energy.

Take the wind technology office's "WHY IT MATTERS" description. The EDGI noticed that the wording changed from how wind can "help the nation reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, diversify its energy supply, provide cost-competitive electricity to key regions across the country, and reduce water usage for power generation" to how wind "helps the nation increase its competitiveness, diversify its energy supply, increase energy security and independence, reduce emissions of air pollutants, save water that would otherwise be used by thermal power generation, and provide cost-competitive electricity across the country."

Another subtle change was, "creating long-term, sustainable skilled jobs" to "creating long-term skilled jobs." Notice the difference?

As the Washington Post puts it:

"Together, the changes collectively downplay the climate benefits of each form of technology and distance the agency from the idea that they might be used to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, instead emphasizing their economic advantages. It's a move that's well in line with the Trump administration's generally dismissive attitude toward the issue of climate change."

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Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Photo credit: Flickr

A supervisor at the Department of Energy's Office of International Climate and Clean Energy told staff to stop using the phrases "climate change," "emissions reduction" and "Paris agreement" in any official written communications, according to POLITICO's sources.

The instructions were reportedly given at a Tuesday meeting held shortly after President Trump's latest controversial executive order that reversed Obama-era climate policies.

Senior officials apparently told DOE climate office staff that the climate-related words would cause a "visceral reaction" with Energy Sec. Rick Perry, his immediate staff and the department's White House advisers.

While a department spokeswoman denied any official language ban in the climate office or in the department as a whole, POLITICO's sources said that there is a general sense among DOE employees that such hot-button terms should be avoided in favor of words like "jobs" and "infrastructure" in light of the Trump administration's anti-environmental agenda.

Environmental groups have balked at POLITICO's report. The Sierra Club noted that the DOE only just emerged from a storm of controversy regarding climate change after its staff purge during the transition period.

"What exactly is this office supposed to call itself now? The international C****** office?" Sierra Club Climate policy director Liz Perera said. "Ignoring the climate crisis will not make it go away, will not create jobs in the booming clean energy economy, and will not make our country great."

"Rick Perry lied to Congress about climate science to get a job at an agency he wanted to eliminate, and he has started things off with a blatant dereliction of duty. The only place the climate is not changing is in the minds of those in the Trump administration," Perera added.

The former Texas governor told Congress during his confirmation hearing that "science tells us that the climate is changing, and that human activity, in some manner, impacts that change." In a 2011 presidential debate, Perry famously forgot the name of the agency he would abolish.

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While the former Texas governor had a few chuckles, Sanders made clear that the climate crisis is no laughing matter.

By Lauren McCauley

During his confirmation hearing on Thursday, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was able to laugh off having once called for abolishing the Department of Energy, which he is now poised to lead, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) refused to let him get away "sounding like a hung over frat boy," as one observer put it, when speaking about the crisis of climate change.

Sanders repeated Perry's own 2011 statement that he does not believe in global warming that America "should not spend billions of dollars addressing a scientific theory that has not been proven."

"That position is a variance with virtually the entire scientific community that has studied climate change," Sanders observed before asking, "do you still hold the views that you expressed in 2011? ... Do you agree with those scientists that it is absolutely imperative that we transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency so that we can leave this planet in a way that is healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations?"

Perry responded by delivering what The Hill described as Republicans' "new line on climate change."

"I believe the climate is changing," Perry said. "I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by manmade activity. The question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn't compromise economic growth, the affordability of energy or American jobs."

"Governor, I don't mean to be rude," Sanders interrupted. "We are in danger of spending God knows how many billions of dollars to repair the damage done by climate change. Drought is becoming a major crisis, it will impact agriculture in a very significant way."

"Let's get beyond the rhetoric," Sanders continued, "the majority of scientists who study this issue think that climate change is a global crisis. It's not a question of balance this and balance that. It is a global crisis that requires massive cuts in carbon and transformation of our energy system."

Then stopping Perry's interjection about his record of lowering emissions in Texas, Sanders said: "I am asking you if you agree with the scientific community that climate change is a crisis and if we need to transform our energy system to protect future generations?"

It is worth noting, as Climate Progress's founding editor Joe Romm did, that Perry's retort about lowering carbon and sulfur emissions speaks to his lack of knowledge as well as how Republican efforts to rollback emissions regulations are at odds with climate science.

As Romm reported, "the reductions in sulfur dioxide and NOx that Perry is now bragging about were due to EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] regulations that Republicans like Perry fought against from the get-go. And now team Trump wants to kill the EPA regulations that would keep lowering carbon emissions."

Sanders also pressed Perry to state whether he thinks that "testing nuclear weapons is a dangerous idea." Perry sidestepped, saying he wants "a nuclear arsenal that is modern and safe" and that he will look to nuclear scientists for answers on whether they should be tested.

Perry added, "I think anyone would be of the opinion that if we don't ever have to test another nuclear weapon, that would be a good thing, not just for the United States, but for the world."

Watch the exchange below:

Sanders is not the only lawmaker who took issue with Perry's past statements on climate change.

During the hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) quoted Perry in 2014, when he declared: "I don't believe we have the settled science by any sense of the imagination. Calling CO2 a pollutant is doing a disserve to the country and a disservice to the world."

"Now," Franken continued, "I see in your testimony that your views have been evolving on this and you note that man is responsible for some climate change. How much climate change do you think that science shows is due to human activity?"

Perry interjected: "It is far from me to be sitting before you and claiming to be a climate scientist. I will not do that."

To which Franken retorted, "I don't think you're ever going to be a climate scientist, but you are going to be head of the Department of Energy."

What the exchange below:

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

By Rob Cowin

There's a clear trend in the president-elect's cabinet appointments—many of them are opposed to the agencies they would lead.

Some have demonstrated opposition to the particular agency and/or its mission in a professional capacity. Others have stated a desire to see the agency disappear altogether, suggesting the institution has no value.

Rick Perry's appointment to head the Department of Energy (DOE) is certainly consistent with this trend; in a 2011 presidential debate he famously forgot the name of the agency he would abolish. And now he's been nominated to lead it.

Why does it matter and what should we expect?

Is Gov. Perry the Right Fit?

The DOE has important national security responsibilities. It's primarily a weapons and environmental management agency, and the secretary position requires strong management skills.

One of DOE's most important responsibilities is making sure things like this (handling nuclear weapons) happen safely. Wikimedia

The DOE is also a science agency. While it's not essential that the secretary be a scientist, it's important that the secretary understands and values science and the scientific process.

Gov. Perry can certainly make a credible case that he's a good manager and he even has some experience with spent nuclear fuel policy in Texas. But he's also made numerous inaccurate and misleading scientific statements and rejects the scientific consensus on things like climate change. If Rick Perry is truly "very intent on doing a good job," he'll need to hit the reset button on his approach to science and science policy, start talking to the experts and stop making irresponsible statements.

As governor, though, he was savvy enough to see the economic and jobs potential of renewable energy, garnering a reputation as a pragmatist. The Texas wind industry, much of it under Perry's governorship, has provided $33 billion in capital investment to the state and supports more than 24,000 jobs and 38 manufacturing facilities, all while generating an incredible 18,531 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity.

How much credit Gov. Perry deserves is debatable, but his record should provide clean energy advocates some cautious optimism. One can work with a pragmatist; it's the ideologues you have to watch out for.

What the Department of Energy Does

Most of DOE's focus is nuclear weapons-related. The agency includes the National Nuclear Security Administration, with the vast majority of the agency's budget allocated to maintaining our nuclear arsenal and managing the cleanup of radioactive waste, much of it from the legacy of the Cold War.

DOE also does a lot of basic science research. DOE manages our 17 national labs, which employ roughly 110,000 people, are supported by Republicans and Democrats, and have helped the U.S. remain at the forefront of science and technology innovation since WWII.

DOE invests in basic scientific research.Sandia National Laboratories

The national labs continue to produce breakthroughs that aid our national security and economic competitiveness, as well as increasing our understanding of everything from automotive engineering, to environmental health, to computer science, to the origins of our universe.

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There's breaking from tradition. Then there's giving away our democracy.

Republican or Democrat, almost every incoming president has turned to the best and the brightest we have—Nobel Prize winners, visionary business leaders, proven diplomats and field-leading experts—to serve on the cabinet and lead U.S. policy in areas like foreign relations, environmental protection and energy.

But with the incoming president, we've instead got a long list of oil industry insiders and climate deniers nominated for critical cabinet positions. Just look at some of the names:

1. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson

Led a company under investigation for misleading the investors and the public about the climate crisis and has strong ties to Russia, the same country that intelligence officials say hacked our elections. Nominated to become secretary of state.

2. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

Received more than $300,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry and involved in multiple lawsuits attacking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nominated to become EPA administrator.

3. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

Called the climate crisis "one contrived phony mess" and proposed eliminating the U.S. Department of Energy. Nominated to become secretary of energy.

4. Representative Ryan Zinke

Disputes the reality of the climate crisis as "not proven science" and supports mining coal on public lands. Nominated to become secretary of the interior.

The implications couldn't be clearer—or more frightening. So we're standing with millions of Americans—Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and everyone in between—to say no.

This isn't about party affiliation or debates about big and small government. All Americans deserve leaders we can trust to put our needs before the profits of powerful corporations. All Americans deserve clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. All Americans deserve a safe future without the devastation of the climate crisis.

But if the Senate confirms these nominations, we're turning over the air we breathe and the lands we share to the oil companies that have willfully polluted them for decades. We're potentially opening U.S. foreign policy to be shaped by Russian influence. We're giving up our leadership on climate action to China and Europe. And we're stepping back into the nineteenth century world of fossil fuels at a time when clean energy technologies like wind and solar are getting cheaper every year and putting thousands of Americans to work.

Now it's up to the Senate to confirm or reject these nominees. So it's up to us to make sure our senators do their job and only confirm nominees we can trust to protect the health of our families and the future of our planet.

We've got our work cut out for us. Already, the Senate has taken the almost unprecedented step of scheduling five confirmation hearings on one day, Jan. 18, to minimize the media coverage and public scrutiny of controversial nominees.

The only way to fight back is by speaking up. The message to the Senate is simple: We need nominees we can trust to put ordinary Americans first. To protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we share from oil companies polluting our environment and driving the climate crisis. Not oil insiders and climate deniers ready to roll back the environmental protections millions of us rely on.

It's time to stand up. Take five minutes today and let your senators know our democracy is not for sale. Not to the oil industry and its allies. Not at any price. Our families, our friends and future generations are counting on us. And we won't let them down.

Call your senators today and tell them to vote against the oil insiders and climate deniers nominated for the cabinet: Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke and Rick Perry.

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By Jo Miles

We all expected that Trump's cabinet would mean trouble for many of the things we care about, from clean energy and healthy communities to our very democracy itself. But his chosen nominees are worse than we could have imagined. These individuals, responsible for the policies and decisions that affect the lives and well-being of all Americans, have a combined net worth of more than $13 billion so far—that's five times the net worth of President Obama's cabinet and more wealth than a third of American households. As you might expect, their ties to corporations run deep and those ties are reflected in their positions and past actions. Here's what you should know about what Trump's nominees mean for our food, water, environment and democracy—and how you can oppose their confirmations:

Scott Pruitt

Nominated for: U.S. EPA Administrator

Why you should worry: Pruitt has bragged about suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) multiple times, has often decried its decisions and now he's on deck to run it. His troubling history includes:

  • He opposed attempts to regulate fracking on federal lands.
  • He condemned the EPA's attempts to study fracking's impact on drinking water as politically motivated.
  • He's pushed the interests of industrial agriculture in Oklahoma, including a deregulatory "right to farm" measure.

Corporate ties: He's a member of ALEC—American Legislative Exchange Council—and has taken about $300,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel CEO Harold Hamm chaired his 2014 re-election campaign.

Notable quote: "It should come as no surprise that I am working diligently with Oklahoma energy companies […] to fight the unlawful overreach of the EPA and other federal agencies."

What you can do: Send an email to your senators asking them to reject Pruitt.

Rex Tillerson

Nominated for: Secretary of State

Why you should worry: His tenure at Exxon gives us insight into how he'd behave as Secretary of State:

  • He's presided over major deals with Russia to expand oil and gas development.
  • Exxon targeted Germany, a nation with a strong commitment to renewables and energy efficiency, for natural gas drilling and fracking.
  • Under Tillerson's leadership, Exxon continued to fund groups that promoted climate denial and spread misinformation about the threat of climate change.

Corporate ties: He's the former CEO of ExxonMobil and has been since 2006. He owns Exxon shares worth $151 million.

Notable fact: Tillerson once sued to keep water towers for a fracking project out of his own backyard.

What you can do: Send an email to your senators asking them to reject Tillerson.

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By Lauren McCauley

Not willing to sit idle as Donald Trump and his cabinet take office and roll out an avowedly pro-fossil fuel, anti-regulation agenda, campaigners are preparing for a multi-faceted affront to the new administration.

Tuesday marked the beginning of the 115th Congress and thus also marked "Day 1 of the official pushback against Trump's climate agenda," according to 350.org's Duncan Meisel.

"Their first job is to review Donald Trump's nominees for cabinet," Meisel wrote in an email Tuesday" and ours is to make sure they reject the slate of climate deniers he has picked for every major climate and energy related position in his administration."

Pointing specifically to Trump's selection of ExxonMobil's CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for Department of Energy and Rep. Ryan Zinke for Department of Interior, campaigners are asking constituents to flood their elected officials with calls and in-person visits to make clear they do not support a climate-denier cabinet.

As part of the near-term "resistance mode," as 350.org co-founder Jamie Henn put, campaigners are also organizing a Day Against Denial on Jan. 9 that will include rallies, phone-ins and direct conversations with legislative staff "to pass along the message that we, as constituents and voters, do not accept Trump's dangerous nominations," according to the website.

Beyond the confirmations, 350.org and other environmental groups are preparing for a far greater show of resistance.

In an email to supporters on Monday, Henn announced the People's Climate Mobilization, on April 29 in Washington, DC.

"We believe that in this moment of division, turmoil and fear, it's important to put forward an alternative vision that inspires and connects," Henn wrote. "If we don't put forward our own vision—of an economy built on justice and powered by clean, renewable energy—then we let fossil-fuel-soaked nationalism, xenophobia and hatred win. We need to show that more people still believe in our shared vision for the future than in Donald Trump's."

The event is expected to be a "major march" and a renewal of the vision set forth in the 400,000-strong People's Climate March on Sept. 21, 2014.

"That march made a huge impact, helping drive forward the Paris climate agreement and push President Obama to make climate action (including rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline) a priority during his last two years in office," Henn continued.

"To change everything, we need everyone," was the motto of the original march. "This spring," Henn wrote, "we're renewing that vision—to show that our movement is just as ready to fight Trump's racism and hatred as we are the fossil fuel industry that's poisoning our future."

As bleak as the planet's future may seem under a Trump administration, there is space to fight back.

In an interview with Fusion published Tuesday, Henn observed that while the incoming administration will have the ability to approve new drilling leases and fossil fuel infrastructure projects, like pipelines, many of those decisions will "still depend on local permits and cooperation," as Fusion put it, placing a great deal of power into the hands of local officials and on voters who hope to sway them.

"I think people realize that this sort of organizing can make a real impact," Henn told the outlet. "Trump is going to help make protesting great again."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

I'm not sure how many things you'd get Michael Bloomberg, Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney to agree on, but they did all say the same thing about Donald Trump: He's a con man. As the chaotic disaster of his presidency begins to play itself out on the national stage, though, we need to take that assessment a step further: Donald Trump is a master of deception and distraction, and our biggest mistake would be to underestimate him. He knows exactly what he's doing. He misdirects and misrepresents to compensate for his weakness as a leader.

Trump often distracts people by saying one thing while doing exactly the opposite. For example, he will praise President Obama and publically declare, as he did in Time magazine this week, that erasing his predecessor's legacy is the furthest thing from his mind. Meanwhile, he is making the farthest-right cabinet appointments in history, choosing men and women who will not only strive to erase President Obama's legacy, but do so with relish.

On no issue is this more obvious than climate change. When pressed on climate change during a meeting with the New York Times, Trump said he intended to keep "an open mind" on the Paris climate accord. Meanwhile, his daughter Ivanka supposedly let it be known that she wanted to make climate change her "signature issue." Might a Trump administration actually work with climate activists to find common ground? Who wouldn't want to believe that? And yet it all turned out to be misdirection.

One after another, every important climate position in Trump's cabinet has gotten an extreme anti-environmental, climate-denying nominee. It started with the most radical anti–climate-progress administrator imaginable for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a sworn enemy of the same agency he would run.

Then came Rex Tillerson as secretary of state—which would put an oil executive with no experience in international diplomacy and a king-sized conflict of interest in charge of our international climate policy.

Next, Trump picked former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who once pledged to eliminate the Department of Energy, to run that very department.

And finally, for the Interior Department, he selected Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, who during his short time in Congress has earned a 3 percent score from the League of Conservation voters.

This is a Koch brothers dream team: Not one of these men accepts the scientific consensus behind climate change. To a man, they are boosters of polluting fossil fuels.

And yet, in the real world, most Americans want their government to do something about climate change—not sabotage our progress. Even more Americans—majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, Trump voters and Clinton voters—want to see their government invest in renewables and a clean-energy economy. If Trump gets away with this clean sweep of dirty energy champions, Americans will end up with exactly the opposite of what we really want and desperately need.

You can argue about whether such tactics served Trump well in his long and checkered business career, but for a U.S. president this kind of behavior is a political time bomb. As Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Every piece of data shows that Trump is the least popular U.S. president to enter office in recent history. Despite the unprecedented intervention of a foreign government in the election, he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots. Treating the American public like suckers while ignoring their real needs and wishes (and hoping they won't notice) is a loser's strategy. It's habitual deception masking a desperate, thin-skinned insecurity. And sooner or later, it will fail spectacularly.

In the meantime, though, a lot of damage can be done. That's why we must see past the distractions of tweets and soundbites and shine a fierce light on the reality of what Trump and his corporate cronies want to do to our government. Nominating someone like a Rex Tillerson to the highest position in the cabinet is a brazen overreach that must be stopped. Putting the EPA and the Department of Energy in the hands of men who want to destroy those institutions is outrageous.

Don't be fooled. We can stop this from happening. If everyone who believes it's important to protect our climate and environment speaks up, Trump will be forced to back down. Start now by telling your senators to oppose the Tillerson and Pruitt nominations, and stay tuned for more actions and ways to get involved.

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