A handful of Trump administration officials this week attended an America First Energy Conference hosted by a conservative think tank where some of the country’s biggest global warming skeptics spoke.
According to a report published by Reuters on Thursday, White House special assistant Brooke Rollins, Interior Department Assistant Secretary Joe BalashJoseph (Joe) BalashTop Trump Interior official joins oil company in Alaska after resignation Interior official threatens to withhold jobs in lawmakers' districts after opposition to BLM move Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade MORE and an assistant in the office of external affairs at Interior, Jason Funes, were among U.S. officials who attended the conference on Tuesday.
Rollins gave the lunch keynote speech, Balash gave the dinner keynote and Funes spoke on a panel about "the future of coal, oil and natural gas."
The annual event was organized by the Heartland Institute and also featured panels with such titles as “Carbon Taxes, Cap & Trade, and Other Bad Ideas” and “Why CO2 Emissions Are Not Creating A Climate Crisis.”
Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift told Reuters that department officials “speak at thousands of conferences every year and share ideas with a diverse group of individuals.”
The news agency reported that more than 40 speakers at the daylong event gave accolades to President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE for pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement last year and for rolling back Obama-era regulations on climate change.
Balash spoke about the Trump administration's deregulation push during his keynote, Reuters said.
Also at the conference, a professor of climatology at the University of Delaware, David Legates, argued that an increase in carbon dioxide emissions helped to make the planet “greener” by allowing plant life to more efficiently consume water.
“So, you would expect, therefore, that this will be a greener planet,” Legates said. Reuters did not report that Trump officials attended his panel.
Rep. Clay HigginsGlen (Clay) Clay HigginsNY Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 in latest House breakthrough case Florida Democrat becomes latest breakthrough COVID-19 case in House Louisiana delegation asks for additional relief funding after Ida MORE (R-La.) also said at the conference that the “deep state is real” and that they’re “they’re certainly anti–fossil fuel.”
The Louisiana Republican also joked about wind and solar energy and said there are probably people speaking at a conference somewhere in the country about “how the future of the world’s engine will be provided by rainbow dust and unicorn milk.”
Funes refused to comment on the views of other speakers at the conference, according to Reuters. Balash and Rollins did not return the outlet's request for comment.