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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:
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.
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.