Senate hearings to vet Trump’s nominees for important cabinet positions begin today with Attorney General under consideration. And later this week, we can possibly expect six hearings in one day, including one for Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson. But scheduling six of the most prominent positions to testify in one rapid-fire day serves a purpose: to divert attention from the nominees massive conflicts of interest and records that are clear in Trump’s gang of climate-denying, fracking-friendly nominees. And when you add all the noise around the impending inauguration, you’ve got a real recipe for distraction from some of the most important issues that face our country, like the very real threat climate change poses to Americans every day.
Trump’s complete denial of climate science is no secret—and his picks for some of the most important positions in government follow his lead. Our researchers have given a hard look into the ties between Trump’s cabinet nominees and the oil and gas industry, and the results, though outrageous, should come as no surprise:
It’s not hard to find ties to the oil and gas industry with these appointments: Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is the former CEO of ExxonMobil, which just cut him a whopping $180 million severance package, should the Senate confirm his nomination. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, nominated as EPA Administrator, submitted a letter drafted by Devon Energy that questioned the federal estimates of air pollution caused by gas drilling in Oklahoma. And Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), in addition to having an abysmal record on civil rights issues, has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the oil and gas industry and authored the first bill to exempt fracking from our bedrock environmental laws.
The ties don’t end there: Rick Perry, the proposed pick for Secretary of Energy, received $14 million in oil and gas contributions to his lieutenant governor, governor and presidential campaigns. He is also a former board member of Energy Transfer Partners (just recently resigning on December 31, 2016), the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The conflicts of interest go on. Our regulatory bodies are meant to protect us from corporate greed that inevitably puts profits over our health—but when our government agencies are headed by people who have been funded by the very corporations they’re supposed to keep in check, how can we trust they’ll do their job? Keeping them accountable to the people’s needs becomes that much harder.
We can’t let our elected officials forget: the impacts from fossil fuels aren’t just profits won or lost. Whether the effects are felt in Standing Rock, North Dakota, Oklahoma or Pennsylvania, fossil fuels have proven again and again that they’re bad for our planet and for our health. Food & Water Watch will keep on fighting to make sure that our government officials do their job protecting us—and we’ll hold our legislators accountable to the people, not the oil and gas companies that try to quietly buy influence.