Wheeler Appoints Climate Denier to EPA Science Board
Former coal lobbyist and acting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler has named a climate denier to serve on the agency's Science Advisory Board, which is responsible for giving independent policy advice.
Among eight new members added to the board Thursday is University of Alabama in Huntsville atmospheric science professor John Christy, who has argued that the climate change predictions agreed upon by most scientists are too extreme, and that urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is not necessary, Reuters reported.
The appointment comes as Wheeler himself is seeking Senate confirmation after President Donald Trump nominated him to head the EPA permanently in January. He had been running the agency on an interim basis following the resignation of scandal-ridden former administrator Scott Pruitt.
All the more reason to #StopWheeler https://t.co/w2LY1VougM— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1548964677.0
Christy has taken his views to Congress in the past. In 2017, he testified before the House Science Committee arguing that the climate models used by international organizations were too inaccurate to be used to guide policy.
"The average of the models is considered to be untruthful in representing the recent decades of climate variation and change, and thus would be inappropriate for use in predicting future changes in the climate or for related policy decisions," he said, according to The Hill.
In 2015, he downplayed the connection between carbon dioxide emissions and climate change during his testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee. The Democrats on the committee pointed out his was "a position shared by approximately three percent of professional climate scientists."
John Christy Climate Change Denial Testimony Highlights May 13 youtu.be
"In a fair, open, and transparent fashion, EPA reviewed hundreds of qualified applicants nominated for this committee," acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement on the appointments. "Members who will be appointed or reappointed include experts from a wide variety of scientific disciplines who reflect the geographic diversity needed to represent all ten EPA regions."
Christy isn't Wheeler's only potentially controversial choice. He also selected three members with ties to industry or conservative think tanks:
1. Richard Williams: Williams works at the Mercatus Center, a think tank affiliated with George Mason University and funded by the Koch brothers. Williams has also worked for the Food and Drug Administration and argued there should be limits on the government's ability to issue regulations, The Hill reported.
2. Brant Ulsh: Ulsh works for the privately-owned M.H. Chew and Associates, which has consulted various government agencies on radiation safety, among other scientific matters. He has argued against assuming that small amounts of radiation are harmful to humans.
3. Hugh Barton: Barton is a toxicology consultant with ties to the pharmaceutical industry, having worked for Pfizer Inc., as Reuters reported.
EPA Head Wheeler Hints Administration Could Meddle With Next Climate Assessment #climatechange #Corruption https://t.co/xkRHaBJYKf— Green Bean (@Green Bean)1543499949.0
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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