'Don't Let a Climate Denier Take Over the EPA'
Climate activists projected huge images and text onto the front of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, DC Monday evening, calling on President-elect Donald Trump to not appoint climate change denier Myron Ebell as head of the agency.
Using a high powered projector, activists with 350.org, ClimateTruth.org and the Sierra Club projected an image of the Earth and oil rigs, along with messages like, "Don't Let A Climate Denier Take Over the EPA" onto the front of the building. The images could be seen clearly across the street from another building: the Trump Hotel.
"Every science teacher in America should be appalled that Donald Trump would consider appointing a climate change denier to head the EPA," Jamie Henn, communications director for 350.org, said. "Part of the job description to run that agency should be that you actually care about the environment. MEbell has shown exactly the opposite, taking over $2 million from ExxonMobil to gut environmental regulations and promote climate denial. We're doing everything we can to stop this appointment."
#Trump's @EPA Advisor #Myro Ebell a 'Superstar of the Denialosphere' https://t.co/Uv2rxlUbYa @EWG @sierraclub @350 @MichaelEMann @EricPooley— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1479494079.0
Trump has already appointed Ebell as head of the EPA Transition Committee and is rumored to be considering him for the top job at the agency. Ebell has no scientific experience and denies the threat of human caused climate change. His think-tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has taken millions more from fossil fuel companies like the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil to undermine environmental regulations. Ebell has also enthusiastically opposed the Clean Power Plan and reveled in his status as "climate criminal."
#RebelAgainstEbell: Sign on to stop #climate change deniers like Myron Ebell from leading Trump's EPA.… https://t.co/YzNh0QQ2ZL— ClimateTruth (@ClimateTruth)1479749512.0
"Myron Ebell is a professional merchant of doubt who is committed to undermining the consensus behind climate change," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said. "It's no wonder why: He has spent his career doing the bidding of the big polluters who pay him to deny climate change and attack clean air protections. Anyone who denies climate science does not have the American people's best interests at heart and is not fit to oversee the leadership of the EPA, an agency that is charged with keeping all Americans healthy and safe."
Environmental groups have collected tens of thousands of signatures opposing Ebell and are looking to add momentum to a growing backlash against his appointment. A petition on the White House's "We the People" website garnered nearly 100,000 signatures before being taken down because the current administration had no say in the matter. Protests have also been spreading offline: Last Friday, hundreds of students at Georgetown and Harvard demonstrated against Ebell, organizing online with the hashtag #RebelAgainstEbell. Environmental groups have also joined other social justice organizations in opposing the appointment of white supremacists and racists such as Steve Bannon and Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Even Climate Denier Glenn Beck Calls Trump's New Chief Strategist Steve Bannon 'Terrifying' https://t.co/SFgmC80JgW @dotearth @tcktcktck— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1479264309.0
"Like Steve Bannon and most others floated for Trump administration roles, Myron Ebell is a climate change denier whose ignorance and corruption makes him unqualified for the job," Emily Southard, campaign director at ClimateTruth.org, said. "If you aren't prepared to protect all Americans from the threat of climate change, you aren't qualified to lead the EPA."
While the odds are low considering Trump's own belief that climate change is "bullsh*t" or "a hoax created by the Chinese," the need for an EPA administrator who supports action to address the climate crisis couldn't be more urgent. Scientists recently confirmed that 2016 is the warmest year on record and Arctic sea ice is at an alarming all time low. Meanwhile, the impacts of climate change across the U.S., especially on low-income and communities of color, are becoming more clear with each passing month.
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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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