Confirmation Hearings for Trump’s Climate-Denying Cabinet Begin Next Week
Lindsay Meiman of 350.org discusses next Monday’s Day Against Denial demonstrations against what some are calling the most fossil fuel-friendly cabinet in history
KIM BROWN: It’s The Real News Network in Baltimore. I’m Kim Brown.
Wednesday, January 11th marks the beginning of Senate confirmation hearings for Trump’s cabinet nominees from Rex Tillerson, recent former CEO of Exxon for Secretary of State to climate-change denier Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator and oil-industry darling, ex-Texas Governor Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy. Critics say it could be one of the most fossil-fuel-friendly White House Cabinets in history.
Activists have labelled it the “Climate Denial Cabinet” and on Monday, January 9th has been dubbed the “Day Against Denial.”
Environmental organizations such as Food and Water Watch and 350.org are planning events and actions across the country with the message to say, to every US Senator, to reject Donald Trump’s reckless climate-denying cabinet nominees.
And joining us from New York City to discuss Monday’s events is Lindsay Meiman. She is a U.S. communications coordinator with 350.org, the climate-action organization working to build a global-climate movement.
Lindsay, thank you so much for being here.
LINDSAY MEIMAN: Thank you for having me.
KIM BROWN: So, Lindsay, tell us about the events planned on Monday for the “Day Against Denial” and who is involved, and what do you hope to achieve with this event?
LINDSAY MEIMAN: Absolutely. So, on Monday, January 9th a coalition of climate organizations will be joined with people across the country, in all 50 states, for rallies for the “Day Against Denial.” And the aim is to stop Trump’s “Climate Denial Cabinet.”
Through this action, we will pressure all 100 senators, in all 50 states, to reject Trump’s radical appointments with the message that, you know, it’s simple: you either stand with fossil fuels and greed or you stand with the people that you represent and science.
And so, we will demonstrate mass public opposition to Trump’s reckless appointments and show that… call on our senators to stand with our communities.
KIM BROWN: Hmm. So, Lindsay, talk about the title of the event, the “Day of Denial,” and who or what it refers to specifically.
I mentioned Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry. So, tell us why you are concerned about their cabinet posts and who else will these protests… who they’re aimed at?
LINDSAY MEIMAN: Absolutely. So, Donald Trump has tapped individuals with a dangerous history of climate denial for each and every cabinet position pertaining to energy and environment.
So, through our Day Against Denial actions, we are calling on all 100 senators to reject Rick Perry for the Secretary of Energy; Representative Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of the Interior; anti-EPA zealot Scott Pruitt, who would run the EPA; and Rex Tillerson, the recent former CEO of ExxonMobil, who has been tapped as Secretary of State.
And Exxon specifically is currently under fire for its key role in orchestrating a decade’s long and ongoing campaign of deception to sow doubt among the public about climate change. And so, the only reason we’ve been faced with a phony debate about climate change for the last decades, for my entire life, is because Exxon has poured an incredible amount of money and resources into sowing doubt and blocking climate action.
Rex Tillerson has never worked anywhere besides Exxon so the company’s climate crimes are really inseparable from Rex Tillerson’s climate crimes.
If Rex Tillerson were our Secretary of State, our international climate policy would be in the hands of the former head of the world’s wealthiest and most deceitful oil corporation. And we won’t stand for that and that’s why people are taking action.
KIM BROWN: Now six Democratic senators, including independent senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, and Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, they signed an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump pressing for more details related to Scott Pruitt’s nearly $200,000 of fossil-fuel industry donations to his non-profit organization, saying that Pruitt’s financial ties to the industry he would regulate as EPA Chief is, quote, “troubling.”
So, can you talk about Scott Pruitt’s potential conflicts of interest?
LINDSAY MEIMAN: When it comes to Scott Pruitt, Trump couldn’t have picked a better puppet of the fossil fuel industry.
Recent investigations showed that when he was the Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt took industry memos word-for-word and put them on his own letterhead. So, he’s truly using the words of the fossil fuel industry.
He formed a secret alliance with oil-and-gas companies, oil-and-coal companies, to gut environmental regulations. He has defended ExxonMobil’s climate cover-up.
This is a man who cares more about the profits of a coal company and their CEOs than the health of our children or the future of our planet.
The hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that Big Oil has given to Pruitt gives us every reason to believe that in this position, he would continue on this path of environmental destruction and prioritize big corporations over the American people.
The fossil fuel industry — coal, oil and gas companies — has long had this strangle-hold over our economy and democracy. Only now, Trump is stacking his cabinet, not only with people who have profited from the fossil fuel industry, but with the very industry itself.
KIM BROWN: So, Lindsay, in what ways can we keep these politicians accountable? How are you going to be able to try to flip senators or encourage senators who demonstrably have ties to the fossil fuel industry or who are determined to, sort of, stay lock-step within the partisan bounds of either, you know, the Democratic or Republican Party?
I mean, how are you going to try and convince these senators not to confirm these somewhat troubling nominees?
LINDSAY MEIMAN: That’s a great question. Well, Monday’s Day Against Denial is a great place to start. It is only the beginning of the mass opposition against Trump’s hate and corruption.
And with this corrupt federal administration, that’s showing it will regress on climate action, it’s more crucial than ever that we pressure our state- and local-elected officials to stand with our communities and with science.
The only reason that climate change has become this political debate is because the fossil fuel industry has poured billions into making sure that there is doubt and deception amongst the public.
But we know that science is not something to believe in. Climate change is not something to believe in and without a healthy planet and a livable future, these donations and these finances are pretty much worthless if our planet is unstable.
KIM BROWN: So, are we already seeing a backlash against Trump’s proposed fossil-friendly-climate-denying administration in terms of growing public activism?
LINDSAY MEIMAN: Absolutely. So not only is Trump stacking his administration with greedy fossil-fuel billionaires, he’s also tapping people like Jeff Sessions, a known racist who has gone out of his way to implement loopholes for fracking companies and even has a history of fighting legal immigration.
Not only are we seeing the existing movements ratchetting up but also Trump’s election has sparked an incredible amount of new people being activated; realizing that now is the moment to take action.
KIM BROWN: And lastly, Lindsay, talk about why action on climate change is urgent and how much damage a Trump Administration could potentially do if we don’t hold them accountable.
LINDSAY MEIMAN: Well, 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history, breaking records of 2015 and 2014 and the years before that.
Communities around the world and across the U.S. experienced extreme weather from droughts and floods to storms and hurricanes at a pace and magnitude that far exceeded previous predictions.
And all of this is happening at one degree Celsius of warming.
On Trump’s business-as-usual path, we are expecting five to seven degrees of warming. And that’s why we need everyone to join together to try to stop this “Climate Denial Cabinet.”
In stacking his administration with these fossil- fuel billionaires, Trump is essentially declaring war on our planet and against the people.
It’s clear that Trump’s plan is to continue to prioritize profit and greed at the expense of a livable planet and thriving communities.
But we have a vision for our world, one that is very different from the one that Trump and his fossil-fuel billionaire ilk are setting out on; one that is powered by 100% renewable energy. A world where the economy prioritizes 1ow-income communities and communities of color and workers — not the wealthy to get even wealthier. A world where we can come together to transition away from fossil fuels in a just way. Not a world that Trump will perpetuate, that feeds off hate and divisiveness.
It’s going to be a big fight ahead and we might lose some battles but we won’t back down.
KIM BROWN: Indeed. Monday, January 9th has been dubbed the “Day Against Denial.” If you’re looking for an action somewhere near you, you can certainly go to 350.org I would imagine, Lindsay, and get more information about that?
LINDSAY MEIMAN: Yes, there is information on our website as well as if you Google “Day Against Denial,” the action page is the first thing that comes up and we do have information listed on 350.org.
KIM BROWN: Lindsay Meiman, she is the U.S. Communications Coordinator with 350.org, the climate-change organization working to build a better global climate movement. Lindsay, we appreciate your time today, thank you.
LINDSAY MEIMAN: Thank you for having me.
KIM BROWN: And thanks for watching The Real News Network.