To run DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Trump chose Daniel Simmons, a staunch foe of renewable energy. Simmons previously worked with the Institute for Energy Research and the American Legislative Exchange Council (a right-wing group that lobbies against progressive policy at the state level). DOE has now tasked Simmons with running “a task force for cutting regulations.” Graphic: Amanda Northrop / Vox

By David Roberts
14 June 2017

(Vox) – In September 2016, speaking to an audience of fossil fuel executives at a Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh, Donald Trump promised, “Oh, you will like me so much.”

They didn’t give him much money during his campaign, presumably because, like most people, they were confident he wouldn’t win. But they made up for it quickly after the election. According to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, “oil, gas and coal companies and executives contributed more than $1 out of every $10 raised for Trump’s inauguration, for which he raised nearly $107 million overall” (a new record).

The love affair between Trump and fossil fuel companies has blossomed ever since. Recently, Kathleen Sgamma, president of the oil and gas trade group Western Energy Alliance, gushed to the New York Times, “not in our wildest dreams, never did we expect to get everything.”

“Everything,” in this case, denotes a long list of friendly appointments and regulatory rollbacks. For all its controversies, distractions, failures, and unfilled jobs, the Trump administration has been steady and true in its devotion to fossil fuel interests, giving them a greater presence inside executive agencies, stripping them of regulatory restraints, and proposing to defund their competitors.

There are some areas of policy where Trump faces friction from courts, Congress, or other elements of the conservative coalition. He has stumbled on health care, on his travel ban, and on foreign policy. But when it comes to environmental and energy policy, the coalition is aligned. All the party’s most powerful and influential factions support a pro-fossil, anti-regulatory agenda; there is an extensive infrastructure of big money, think tanks, and lobbyists built to support it.

It’s worth noting that a pro-fossil fuel, anti-regulatory approach is not particularly popular in the US, in either party. Majorities in every congressional district support limiting local pollution and carbon emissions from coal plants. Majorities in every Congressional district believe America’s focus should turn toward wind and solar. Majorities in every state support the Paris climate agreement.

But the money and intensity on the GOP side support fossil fuels. And there is no faction on the right that cares enough about climate or environmental issues to prioritize them over the larger culture war. So there is no friction.

The relative lack of conflict makes the fossil fuel takeover quieter than other parts of the Trump reality show, but not for lack of activity. Trump has moved aggressively to make good on his promises.

In its first 100 days, the administration overturned, reversed, or suspended 23 environmental rules and regulations. Even the White House website has vanished any mention of climate change and replaced it with a paean to energy production.

It’s been a full-court press. In this post, I’m going to review a few of the highlights — some of the people with whom the administration is staffing its agencies, as well as a few of the rule and procedure changes it has already put in place. It is by no means comprehensive (and will likely soon be out of date), but it should offer some perspective on the sheer breadth of the administration’s work on behalf of fossil fuels.

Like so many areas of Trump policy, it is reminiscent of George W. Bush’s administration, only more shameless. It is too soon to say if Trump will be “worse than Bush” on this score, but it’s already clear that he feels less of a need to cover his decisions with a veneer of “balance.” [more]

Donald Trump is handing the federal government over to fossil fuel interests

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