According to outgoing EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, staff at the agency are concerned that the incoming Trump administration could reverse progress on climate change and even interfere with science. McCarthy said the administration will face resistance if it pushes for policies that run against the ongoing shift to renewable energy, that deny mounting evidence and scientific opinion. Trump has vowed to break the EPA down to “tidbits”, and nominated Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the agency. Pruitt has sued the EPA 14 times on their pollution regulations, denied climate science, and faces opposition from environmental advocates over his connections to the oil and gas industry.
McCarthy, who was appointed in 2009 by Barack Obama, said:
“People at the EPA will be respectful of the new administration but they will continue to do their jobs. I would not be telling the truth if I said there was no sense of nervousness. There is a sense of nervousness that the new administration will take decisions not in line with the science.
“If they don’t take notice of the science, we will be back to where we were before the last president. We’ve done everything we can to not only reduce greenhouse gases but also send the world a message about the seriousness of the issue. I hope the rest of the world realizes that the vast majority of people here accept that seriousness and that we will remain part of the international action regardless of what the new administration does.”
Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, although his pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has said he wants the US still be involved in climate talks. However, the new administration is likely to take apart Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which sets emissions standards for coal-fired power plants.
McCarthy, on a more hopeful note, said that any reversal by the administration on climate change would not be able to halt progress:
“Cities are making changes, local communities are taking action, there’s continued investment from the business community. They will continue to step up and there’s no way these people will be put in a bubble during this administration. The world is moving towards climate action.”
McCarthy said she tried to contact Pruitt to discuss the matter but had so far been unable to reach him.