The Koch Brothers and Trump's EPA Beachhead Team


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Last week, Doug Ericksen, communications director for Trump's EPA transition team, told NPR that the agency planned to review all of its scientists' studies on a "case by case basis" prior to publication. Employees were also told to "scrub" EPA's climate change web pages, although the administration backed off that charge. Ericksen told Bloomberg BNA that the agency plans to restore full communications rights, including social media, "as soon as possible."

Until we learn more, here's what we do know about the beachhead team and some notable affiliations, mapped out using the LittleSis platform.

Koch and Coal Connections

Charles Munoz is the White House liaison to the EPA landing team and was a top Trump organizer in his home state of Nevada. Munoz helped launch the Nevada chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group funded by the Kochs.

David Schnare, who has waged intimidation campaigns against climate scientists, worked for 33 years at the EPA before joining a number of Koch-affiliated entities.

Schnare is director of the the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic at George Mason University, which serves as the official attorney for the Energy and Environment Legal Institute. Both are funded extensively by Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust. Schnare is also an energy policy expert at the Heartland Institute.

David Kreutzer was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a group funded by foundations controlled by Koch Industries

After working at the EPA during the George W. Bush Administration, George Sugiyama lobbied for the National Mining Association. Sugiyama also served as legal adviser to the Republican minority, led by Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, on the Senate environment committee. Inhofe is arguably the best-known climate science denier in Congress and famously declared climate change to be a "hoax."

Washington State's Worst on Climate

Two Washington state officials, described as the state's "most radical small government lawmakers," have been assigned key posts on the beachhead team. Don Benton, who once introduced legislation based on Agenda 21 conspiracy theories, is the Senior White House Advisor to the EPA transition. And Doug Ericksen is serving as communications director for the transition team.

Described by the Seattle Times as "an ally of the fossil-fuel industry," Doug Ericksen was named by Washington Conservation Voters as among the state's "Dirty Dozen" worst politicians.

Ericksen wants to make it a felony for oil-by-rail protests to block train tracks, describing it as "economic terrorism," although the Seattle Times notes that Ericksen's motive is "punishing environmentalists, tribal activists and others who have illegally obstructed oil and coal trains, pipelines and similar projects." The Times notes, "More than going after individual protesters, Ericksen said the legislation's goal is to target wealthy, liberal donors, such as billionaires George Soros or Tom Steyer and organizations such as the Sierra Club, for sponsoring disruptive demonstrations. They could be held liable for damages under the bill."

Shannon Murphy, head of the Washington Conservation Voters, said, "Sen. Ericksen's and Benton's environmental records speak for themselves. They are both climate deniers who have consistently voted against protecting clean air and water for communities across the state."

The Rest of the Team

Patrick Davis ran Trump's campaign in Colorado and before that was accused of defrauding a wealthy super PAC by steering money to fake organizations "run" by Davis and his friends.

Layne Bangerter headed the Trump campaign in Idaho and most recently worked with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), whose website claims that the cause of changes to the Earth's climate "is ultimately not well-understood and is a matter of vigorous debate." Koch Industries donated $40,000 to Crapo's campaign from 2013-2014.

Justin Schwab is serving as the main legal advisor and is currently an attorney at the corporate law firm Baker Hostetler in Washington, DC.

Holly Greaves is working on budget issues and was most recently a public accountant for KPMG, which works with a number of oil, gas and utility industry clients.

Reposted with permission from our media associate DeSmogBlog.

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