Energy & Environment

Emails show climate change skeptics tout ‘winning’ under Trump

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A conservative think tank that seeks to battle global warming “alarmism” celebrated during President Trump’s first year in office, according to correspondence obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request.

Joe Bast, the co-founder of the Illinois-based Heartland Institute, wrote to allies in January that 2017 had been “a great year for climate realists” due to policies pursued by the Trump administration. The email referred to the White House’s efforts to direct federal agencies to remove references to climate change from official documents. 


“This is what victory looks like,” he wrote in October when noting that “global warming” wasn’t mentioned in the EPA’s strategic plan for upcoming years. 

“More winning, this time at FEMA,” he added in March when the Federal Emergency Management Agency cut references to climate change from its plans.

According to the released emails released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tuesday and first reported on by the trade publication E&E News, EPA coordinated with Heartland to include climate change doubters in meetings about accuracy and scientific integrity and is asking Trump officials to appoint a committee designed to combat “the bias that infected climate science and policymaking” under the Obama administration.

EPA released the emails following a lawsuit by The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and Environmental Defense Fund in March.

“EPA’s efforts to promote climate change deniers and undermine peer-reviewed science behind closed doors is not only a failure of its mission, it is illegal,” said Kym Hunter, Attorney for SELC at the time. “The public has a clear and protected right to know what the EPA is doing and with whom they are communicating, including those pushing a climate-denier agenda.”

Former Texas Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R), who now leads the group, told The Associated Press that the EPA recognizes his group as a “pre-eminent organization opposing the radical climate alarmism agenda.”

An EPA spokesperson told the AP that the agency works with the Heartland Institute, among other organizations, “to ensure the public is informed.”

An internal EPA memo leaked in March showed that the agency instructed staffers to balance evidence that links human beings to climate change with “gaps” in the science. 

“Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue,” reads the memo, which says EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt encourages an “open” debate on climate science.

In April, the EPA said that updates to the website including those that removed references to climate change “reflect the views of the leadership of the agency.” 

Tags Climate change denialism Donald Trump EPA FEMA Heartland Institute Scott Pruitt Tim Huelskamp Tim Huelskamp Trump administration

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