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Climate Change Hasn’t Changed

Climate Change Hasn’t Changed

Recently, while cleaning out some files, I came across a news story I saved from 2009. It still resonates today with the same common sense logic and awareness that remains elusive among the masses, and frustratingly absent from public policy, political power groups, and corporate accountability. 12-13 years ago. 

Sure, things have improved. But the proportion of outrage and individual virtues in comparison to the broad scale changes needed in oil reliance, automotive design, and all around energy production industries, remains too small to make a difference thus far. 

A related link from 2015 I included at the bottom describes the problem as described by climate scientists, in even more stark terms than Friedman. 

This planet is on the short side of the math, and that’s always been due to the blindness or denial of what the problem to solve actually is. 

The last two Q & As in this interview say it best. >MB

Q&A: Columnist Tom Friedman on Climate Change

In his bestselling book “Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman argues that countries that pioneer renewable-energy technologies will increase their national security and prosperity at the expense of those that cling to fossil fuels. He spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Sharon Begley: (Article continued below…)

Begley: A Gallup poll found that 41 percent of Americans—a record high—say concerns about climate change are exaggerated. Why is the public so resistant to the findings of climate science?

Friedman: What’s ironic is that that poll comes out at a time when more and more studies are suggesting that climate change is happening faster, bigger, quicker and with more powerful impacts than we anticipated just a few years ago. For whatever reason, climate change was presented as a political issue, and because [of that] there had to be sides … Also, there is a real aversion among scientists to popularizing things, so sometimes they’ve been a little diffident about making the case strongly. And part of the problem is that the most vocal global advocate on climate change has been Al Gore. For all these reasons it’s not surprising that the average person would be confused.

In the 1970s, the country was making progress toward renewable energy. Then things came to a screeching halt. What happened?

We were too successful. We imposed draconian mileage standards on cars, and it had a very big impact. At the same time, there was a global oil glut, and oil prices collapsed after Jimmy Carter left office [removing the economic pressure to move away from oil]. Ronald Reagan came in and instead of keeping up the initiative to have more solar energy, have more wind power, invest in energy efficiency and continue increasing mileage requirements for cars, he put the brakes on. Reagan proudly stripped the solar panels off the White House roof.

In “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” you use the phrase “dumb as we wanna be” to describe Americans’ attitudes toward energy and climate. What examples did you have in mind?

There are so many. I was trying to convey this idea that we thought we could sit back and delay everything until we got around to it. As a result we fell behind in the renewable-energy industries that are going to be the next great global industry. I believe this industry, which I call ET—energy technology, the search for abundant, cheap, clean, reliable electrons—is going to be the IT of the 21st century. One of the problems with the term “green” is that the definition was imposed by its opponents, by the Rush Limbaugh crowd. They named green [as] liberal, tree-hugging, sissy, girlie-man, unpatriotic, vaguely European. What I’ve been trying to do in this book is to rename green as geopolitical, geostrategic, geo-economic, capitalistic, patriotic. The country that owns green, that dominates that industry, is going to have the most energy security, national security, economic security, competitive companies, healthy population and, most of all, global respect. I want that country to be the United States of America. This isn’t just about electric power. It’s about economic power, it’s about national power.

You’re critical of efforts to get people to make small, symbolic gestures to use less energy. What’s wrong with that?

The danger is you think that if you change your light bulbs [to compact fluorescents], you’ve solved the problem. My motto is, change your leaders, not your light bulbs. Because what leaders do is rewrite the rules. They rewrite the rules of what utilities can burn as energy. They rewrite the car-mileage rules. They rewrite the rules of whether a nuclear plant can be built. These are the only things that give you [change at the scale we need]. Without scale change right now, in terms of climate we’re really cooked. You know, I come out of the world of covering foreign policy, and that trained me to look for where the leverage points are. I don’t think the leverage points now are in more consciousness-raising.

In the past, the public was ahead of politicians on issues such as civil rights. Is that the case with energy and climate?

It’s all about how you frame the issues. We’ve done polling at The New York Times, and if you ask people, would you like a carbon tax or a [higher] gasoline tax, they say no, no. But then you say, would you like a tax that combats climate change over the long term, [and they say,] yeah, I could see that. And would you like a tax that relieves us from living under the thumb of petro-dictators, [and they say,] yeah, I’d like that. I mean, what is it we’re trying to do? [To change things so] that there won’t be such a thing as a “green car,” there will just be a car, and you won’t be able to build it except at the highest levels of efficiency. There won’t be such a thing as a “green home,” there will just be a home, and you will not be able to build it unless it is at the highest standards of green energy, efficiency and sustainability. You’ll know the green revolution has been won when the word “green” disappears.

Original link:

Related from 2015:

What Does It Mean for a Whole Nation to Become Uninhabitable?

What Does It Mean for a Whole Nation to Become Uninhabitable?

Ms. Lockwood is the ideas editor at the website Rest of World and the author of the forthcoming book “1,001 Voices on Climate Change,” from which this essay is adapted.

Devi Lockwood spent five years traveling the globe talking to people about changes they were seeing to their local water and climates. Here are some of the stories she heard.

A little more than 10,000 people live in Tuvalu. Generations ago, Polynesians navigated here by the stars, calling the sprinkles of land in the vast blue of the South Pacific home. With 10 square miles of total area, less than five miles of roads and only one hospital on the main island, Tuvalu is the fourth-smallest countryin the world. Disney World is four times larger in area. Tuvalu’s capital city, Funafuti, sits about 585 miles south of the Equator.

By some estimates, Tuvaluans will be forced, by water scarcity and rising sea levels, to migrate elsewhere in the next 50 years. This mass exodus is already happening. Large Tuvaluan outposts exist in Fiji and New Zealand.

I came to Tuvalu with a question: What does it mean for a whole nation to become uninhabitable in my lifetime?

Tauala Katea, the director of Tuvalu’s meteorological service, sat in his office near the airport and tilted a monitor to show me an image of a recent flood when water bubbled up under a field by the runway. “This is what climate change looks like,” he told me.

“In 2000, Tuvaluans living in the outer islands noticed that their taro and pulaka crops were suffering,” he said. “The root crops seemed rotten and the size was getting smaller and smaller.”

Those two starchy staples of Tuvaluan cuisine are grown in pits dug underground. This crop failure was the first indication that something was wrong. The culprit was found to be saltwater intrusion linked to sea level rise.

The last 20 years have marked a period of significant change in the Tuvaluan way of life. Thatched roofs and freshwater wells are things of the past. The freshwater lens underneath the island, a layer that floats above denser seawater, has become salty and contaminated. Each home now has a water tank attached to a corrugated iron roof by a gutter. This rainwater is boiled for drinking and also used to wash clothes and dishes and for bathing.

Imported food is now commonplace. During my month in Tuvalu (from December 2014 to January 2015), I learned what climate change tastes like: imported rice, tinned corned beef, a handful of imported carrots and apples, the occasional local papaya, bananas and many creative uses for custard powder.

We Made the Coronavirus Epidemic

We Made the Coronavirus Epidemic

It may have started with a bat in a cave, but human activity set it loose.

By David Quammen, Via NYTimes
Jan. 28, 2020

A normally busy shopping district during the Chinese New Year holiday in Beijing.

The latest scary new virus that has captured the world’s horrified attention, caused a lockdown of 56 million people in China, disrupted travel plans around the globe and sparked a run on medical masks from Wuhan, Hubei Province, to Bryan, Texas, is known provisionally as “nCoV-2019.” It’s a clunky moniker for a lurid threat.

The name, picked by the team of Chinese scientists who isolated and identified the virus, is short for “novel coronavirus of 2019.” It reflects the fact that the virus was first recognized to have infected humans late last year — in a seafood and live-animal market in Wuhan — and that it belongs to the coronavirus family, a notorious group. The SARS epidemic of 2002-3, which infected 8,098 people worldwide, killing 774 of them, was caused by a coronavirus, and so was the MERS outbreak that began on the Arabian Peninsula in 2012 and still lingers (2,494 people infected and 858 deaths as of November).

Despite the new virus’s name, though, and as the people who christened it well know, nCoV-2019 isn’t as novel as you might think.

Something very much like it was found several years ago in a cave in Yunnan, a province roughly a thousand miles southwest of Wuhan, by a team of perspicacious researchers, who noted its existence with concern. The fast spread of nCoV-2019 — more than 4,500 confirmed cases, including at least 106 deaths, as of Tuesday morning, and the figures will have risen by the time you read this — is startling but not unforeseeable. That the virus emerged from a nonhuman animal, probably a bat, and possibly after passing through another creature, may seem spooky, yet it is utterly unsurprising to scientists who study these things.

One such scientist is Zheng-Li Shi, of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a senior author of the draft paper (not yet peer reviewed and so far available only in preprint) that gave nCoV-2019 its identity and name. It was Ms. Shi and her collaborators who, back in 2005, showed that the SARS pathogen was a bat virus that had spilled over into people. Ms. Shi and colleagues have been tracing coronaviruses in bats since then, warning that some of them are uniquely suited to cause human pandemics.

In a 2017 paper, they set out how, after nearly five years of collecting fecal samples from bats in the Yunnan cave, they had found coronaviruses in multiple individuals of four different species of bats, including one called the intermediate horseshoe bat, because of the half-oval flap of skin protruding like a saucer around its nostrils. The genome of that virus, Ms. Shi and her colleagues have now announced, is 96 percent identical to the Wuhan virus that has recently been found in humans. And those two constitute a pair distinct from all other known coronaviruses, including the one that causes SARS. In this sense, nCoV-2019 is novel — and possibly even more dangerous to humans than the other coronaviruses.

I say “possibly” because so far, not only do we not know how dangerous it is, we can’t know. Outbreaks of new viral diseases are like the steel balls in a pinball machine: You can slap your flippers at them, rock the machine on its legs and bonk the balls to the jittery rings, but where they end up dropping depends on 11 levels of chance as well as on anything you do. This is true with coronaviruses in particular: They mutate often while they replicate, and can evolve as quickly as a nightmare ghoul.

Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance, a private research organization based in New York that focuses on the connections between human and wildlife health, is one of Ms. Shi’s longtime partners. “We’ve been raising the flag on these viruses for 15 years,” he told me on Friday with calm frustration. “Ever since SARS.” He was a co-author of the 2005 bats-and-SARS study, and again of the 2017 paper about the multiple SARS-like coronaviruses in the Yunnan cave.

Mr. Daszak told me that, during that second study, the field team took blood samples from a couple of thousand Yunnanese people, about 400 of whom lived near the cave. Roughly 3 percent of them carried antibodies against SARS-related coronaviruses.

“We don’t know if they got sick. We don’t know if they were exposed as children or adults,” Mr. Daszak said. “But what it tells you is that these viruses are making the jump, repeatedly, from bats to humans.” In other words, this Wuhan emergency is no novel event. It’s part of a sequence of related contingencies that stretches back into the past and will stretch forward into the future, as long as current circumstances persist.

So when you’re done worrying about this outbreak, worry about the next one. Or do something about the current circumstances.

Current circumstances include a perilous trade in wildlife for food, with supply chains stretching through Asia, Africa and to a lesser extent, the United States and elsewhere. That trade has now been outlawed in China, on a temporary basis; but it was outlawed also during SARS, then allowed to resume — with bats, civets, porcupines, turtles, bamboo rats, many kinds of birds and other animals piled together in markets such as the one in Wuhan.

Current circumstances also include 7.6 billion hungry humans: some of them impoverished and desperate for protein; some affluent and wasteful and empowered to travel every which way by airplane. These factors are unprecedented on planet Earth: We know from the fossil record, by absence of evidence, that no large-bodied animal has ever been nearly so abundant as humans are now, let alone so effective at arrogating resources. And one consequence of that abundance, that power, and the consequent ecological disturbances is increasing viral exchanges — first from animal to human, then from human to human, sometimes on a pandemic scale.

We invade tropical forests and other wild landscapes, which harbor so many species of animals and plants — and within those creatures, so many unknown viruses. We cut the trees; we kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets. We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it.

The list of such viruses emerging into humans sounds like a grim drumbeat: Machupo, Bolivia, 1961; Marburg, Germany, 1967; Ebola, Zaire and Sudan, 1976; H.I.V., recognized in New York and California, 1981; a form of Hanta (now known as Sin Nombre), southwestern United States, 1993; Hendra, Australia, 1994; bird flu, Hong Kong, 1997; Nipah, Malaysia, 1998; West Nile, New York, 1999; SARS, China, 2002-3; MERS, Saudi Arabia, 2012; Ebola again, West Africa, 2014. And that’s just a selection. Now we have nCoV-2019, the latest thump on the drum.

Current circumstances also include bureaucrats who lie and conceal bad news, and elected officials who brag to the crowd about cutting forests to create jobs in the timber industry and agriculture or about cutting budgets for public health and research. The distance from Wuhan or the Amazon to Paris, Toronto or Washington is short for some viruses, measured in hours, given how well they can ride within airplane passengers. And if you think funding pandemic preparedness is expensive, wait until you see the final cost of nCoV-2019.

Fortunately, current circumstances also include brilliant, dedicated scientists and outbreak-response medical people — such as many at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, EcoHealth Alliance, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), the Chinese C.D.C. and numerous other institutions. These are the people who go into bat caves, swamps and high-security containment laboratories, often risking their lives, to bring out bat feces and blood and other precious evidence to study genomic sequences and answer the key questions.

As the number of nCoV-2019 cases has increased, and the death toll along with it, one metric, the case fatality rate, has remained rather steady so far: at about or below 3 percent. As of Tuesday, less than three out of 100 confirmed cases had died. That’s relatively good luck — worse than for most strains of influenza, better than for SARS.

This good luck may not last. Nobody knows where the pinball will go. Four days from today, the number of cases may be in the tens of thousands. Six months from today, Wuhan pneumonia may be receding into memory. Or not.

We are faced with two mortal challenges, in the short term and the long term. Short term: We must do everything we can, with intelligence, calm and a full commitment of resources, to contain and extinguish this nCoV-2019 outbreak before it becomes, as it could, a devastating global pandemic. Long term: We must remember, when the dust settles, that nCoV-2019 was not a novel event or a misfortune that befell us. It was — it is — part of a pattern of choices that we humans are making.

David Quammen is an author and journalist whose books include “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.”

Who Controls Trump’s Environmental Policy?

Who Controls Trump’s Environmental Policy?

A small number of people at a few federal agencies have vast power over the protection of American air and water.

Under the Trump administration, the people appointed to those positions overwhelmingly used to work in the fossil fuel, chemical and agriculture industries. During their time in government they have been responsible for loosening or undoing nearly 100 environmental protections from pollution and pesticides, as well as weakening preservations of natural resources and efforts to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Of 20 key officials across several agencies, 15 came from careers in the oil, gas, coal, chemical or agriculture industries, while another three hail from state governments that have spent years resisting environmental regulations. At least four have direct ties to organizations led by Charles G. and the late David H. Koch, who have spent millions of dollars to defeat climate change and clean energy measures.

Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, noted that many Republican administrations had brought in people from regulated industries. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with hiring people from the private sector. But we need to make sure they are making decisions in the public interest,” she said.

The Trump administration has said it is focused on ending government overreach, and agency officials said it should be no surprise the administration has tapped people who have dealt first-hand with regulations and share President Trump’s deregulatory goals. Administration press officers added that top agency officials had spent years in public service as well as in the private sector; that all agency officials undergo ethics training; and that those who have worked for industry had signed recusal statements.

“Senior administration officials, an overwhelming majority of whom the Senate has given their advice and consent to, understand that economic growth and environmental protection do not need to conflict,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said in a statement.

The Environmental Protection Agency

When Cleveland’s heavily polluted Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969, it galvanized the nation and helped lead to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Since then, the E.P.A. has tracked pollution and enacted regulations to guide clean air and water laws and reduce levels of toxic substances. The Trump administration has argued the agency’s rules have become too onerous — particularly for the fossil fuel and agriculture industries.

Andrew R. Wheeler
Head of the E.P.A.

Former fossil fuel lobbyist. Now in charge of regulating (and deregulating) industry.

As a lobbyist, Mr. Wheeler represented an electric utility, a uranium producer and, most significantly, a coal magnate who paid Mr. Wheeler’s former lobbying firm more than $2.7 million over eight years to loosen restrictions on coal companies.
Mr. Wheeler’s job is to enforce clean air and water laws. During his tenure, he has rolled back regulations and made it easier for highly polluting coal plants to keep operating.
Peter Wright
Head of land and emergency management

Previously represented Dow Chemical in the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites. Now oversees E.P.A.’s Superfund cleanup program.

Mr. Wright spent 19 years as an attorney at Dow, one of the world’s largest chemical makers. He fought to lessen Dow’s responsibility to contribute to the cleanup of a toxic waste site in Midland, Mich.
Mr. Wright oversees the E.P.A.’s ongoing cleanup of thousands of Superfund sites, as well as emergency response and waste programs.
Anne Idsal
Head of air office

Former attorney at Texas environment agencies that fought federal regulations. Now oversees regulations that limit air pollution at the E.P.A.

Ms. Idsal worked at Texas state agencies that sued the E.P.A. over a plan to reduce air pollution in the state and require new controls on coal-fired power plants. In 2017 she told the Texas Observer she wasn’t sure whether humans had an effect on climate change.
As head of E.P.A.’s air office, Ms. Idsal now oversees decisions on regulating air pollution and climate change, including whether to impose controls on coal-fired power plants.
Alexandra Dapolito-Dunn
Head of chemical safety

Former attorney and law professor at nonpartisan state environmental organizations and universities. Now oversees chemical regulations at the E.P.A.

Ms. Dapolito-Dunn spent several years working in nonpartisan organizations focused on the environment, including as executive director and general counsel for the Environmental Council of the States and the Association of Clean Water Administrators.
Under Ms. Dapolito-Dunn, the E.P.A. has decided not to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to impaired brain development in children, and has proposed new restrictions on asbestos that agency scientists said did not go far enough.
Nancy B. Beck
Principal deputy head of chemical safety

Previously worked in the chemical industry against regulations of chemicals. Now in charge of chemical regulations (though currently in a temporary position at the White House).

Ms. Beck ran the E.P.A.’s chemical office for the first two years of the Trump administration but is now temporarily at the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Before joining the E.P.A., she served at the American Chemistry Council, which lobbies to weaken regulations on chemicals.
At the E.P.A., Ms. Beck pushed to weaken rules on toxic chemicals like the pesticide chlorpyrifos, as well as the review process for other toxic substances like the paint stripper ingredient methylene chloride. David Fischer is filling in for her at the E.P.A. while she advises the White House.
David Fischer
Deputy head of chemical safety

Previously helped chemical companies navigate chemical safety laws. Now oversees federal implementation of chemical safety laws.

Mr. Fischer held several positions over a 10-year span at the American Chemistry Council, including serving as senior director in the chemical products and technology division. He later joined a public relations firm.
Mr. Fischer has stepped into Ms. Beck’s previous E.P.A. role during her temporary move to the White House, and is now a top policy adviser on chemical regulations.
David Ross
Head of the water office

Previously sued to block an E.P.A. clean water rule. Now runs the Office of Water.

Mr. Ross represented industry clients like the American Farm Bureau against E.P.A. water regulations before entering state government. As an assistant attorney general of Wyoming, he challenged the E.P.A.’s clean water rule.
Mr. Ross has led efforts to restrict the scope of the Clean Water Act and to weaken an Obama-era clean water regulation known as the Waters of the United States.
Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta
Head of research and development

A career E.P.A. scientist, who now serves as E.P.A.’s top science adviser.

Dr. Orme-Zavaleta has been with the E.P.A. since 1981, working with Republican and Democratic administrations on a range of issues including water pollution and chemical exposure risk.
Her office is in charge of a proposed new regulation that would restrict the use of scientific studies the E.P.A. can use when creating or modifying pollution regulations.
David Dunlap
Deputy head of science policy

Former chemicals expert for Koch Industries. Now oversees federal research on toxic chemicals that will determine if more regulations are required.

Mr. Dunlap previously served as a policy chief at Koch Industries, focusing on water and chemical management. Earlier, he served as a vice president of the Chlorine Institute, which represents producers and distributors.
Mr. Dunlap is the top political deputy overseeing E.P.A.’s pollution and toxic chemical research at the Office of Research and Development. Mr. Dunlap helps to review chemicals to determine if they require new restrictions. He has recused himself from work on one particular chemical, formaldehyde, because Koch Industries is a major formaldehyde producer.

Department of the Interior

The Interior Department manages more than 500 million acres of land and 1.7 billion acres of ocean floor, as well as the plants and animals living there and the oil, gas and other minerals that lie below. Under the Trump administration, the agency has removed regulatory obstacles to fossil fuel development.

David Bernhardt
Head of the Department of the Interior

Former lobbyist for oil, gas and farming interests. Now oversees all federal land and natural resource use.

Former lawyer and lobbyist for oil and gas companies including Halliburton, Cobalt International Energy, Samson Resources, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
Mr. Bernhardt leads the Interior Department, overseeing millions of acres of federal land and waterways. Under his tenure, the agency has weakened protections for endangered species, rolled back regulations on methane fought by the oil and gas industries, and weakened protections for fish in order to divert water to California farmers.
Douglas W. Domenech
Oversees oceans, coasts and American territories

Previously worked as an oil lobbyist and on lawsuits to weaken environmental policies. Now oversees policy decisions over oceans and in U.S. territories.

Mr. Domenech was the director of the Fueling Freedom Project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a Koch-funded group that promotes fossil fuels. Before that, he was the secretary of natural resources in Virginia, where he supported oil drilling off the state’s coastline.
Mr. Domenech has been closely involved in most major policy decisions at the Interior Department, including scaling back national monuments in Utah and reversing endangered species protections.
William P. Pendley
Acting chief, Bureau of Land Management

A conservative attorney who has advocated selling off public lands. Now oversees 250 million acres of public lands.

Mr. Pendley has long been critical of public lands and the environmental movement, and has compared government regulation to tyranny. He once compared climate change to a “unicorn” because “neither exists.”
Mr. Pendley is in charge of all federal public land across 12 western states, and decides whether or not to grant leases to fossil fuel companies for oil exploration and mining. He currently is overseeing the move of the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters to Colorado.
Scott A. Angelle
Head of offshore safety and enforcement

Previously opposed former President Barack Obama’s halt on drilling after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Now oversees safety measures put in place after disasters.

As Louisiana’s secretary of natural resources, Mr. Angelle pushed to lift the Obama administration’s moratorium on Gulf Coast drilling imposed after BP spill. Shortly after being appointed to the Interior department, he told a group of oil and gas executives, “Help is on the way.”
Mr. Angelle has overseen efforts to roll back Obama-era offshore drilling regulations, including safety requirements on blow-out preventers and real-time monitoring.
Aurelia Skipwith
Director of Fish and Wildlife Services

Previously worked for the agrochemical giant Monsanto. Now oversees the recovery of threatened and endangered species.

Ms. Skipwith co-founded, with her fiancé, and served as general counsel of an agricultural consulting company, AVC Global. She previously worked for agricultural companies like Monsanto.
The Fish and Wildlife service oversees most wildlife protection in the United States as well as 150 million acres of land conservation and development projects on the nation’s wildlife refuges.
James F. Reilly
Director, U.S. Geological Survey

Used to be a geologist for an oil and gas company. Now he oversees an initiative to restrict the way the government uses climate change models.

Dr. Reilly worked for 15 years as the chief geologist for Enserch Exploration, an oil and gas company based in Dallas. He also worked at NASA and was an astronaut for 13 years.
Dr. Reilly has ordered that scientific assessments from the U.S. Geological Survey focus on climate models that project the effects of climate change through 2040, rather than 2100, which had been the previous standard. Federal scientists say that would be misleading because the major impacts of current emissions may be felt after 2040.
Daniel Jorjani
Solicitor of the Department of the Interior

Formerly an adviser to organizations led by the Koch brothers. Now a top attorney overseeing President Trump’s policy of encouraging fossil fuel production and development.

Mr. Jorjani served in the Interior Department under George W. Bush, and then worked for three different groups connected to the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, who have spent millions opposing efforts to fight climate change.
Mr. Jorjani provides legal advice and oversees legal opinions regarding all Interior Department regulatory policies, including the decision to end criminal penalties for the “incidental” killing of migratory birds in the course of business activity.

Department of Energy

In addition to overseeing the country’s nuclear arsenal, the Energy Department helps to develop energy from fossil fuels as well as renewables like wind, solar and geothermal power. Under the Trump administration it has rolled back energy efficiency measures for appliances and light bulbs, and promoted the export of coal and liquified natural gas.

Dan Brouillette
Head of the Department of Energy

Former lobbyist for the insurance industry and for Ford Motor Company. Now secretary of the Department of Energy.

Mr. Brouilette was senior vice president of the United Services Automobile Association and at the Ford Motor Company. He has lobbied for the Business Software Alliance, Lockheed Martin, Time Warner, Entergy & Verizon.
Mr. Brouillette oversees the country’s nuclear energy stockpile and the national laboratories conducting energy research and development. In December, one of his first acts as secretary was to roll back Obama-era energy efficiency standards for light bulbs.
Neil Chatterjee
Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Formerly coordinated opposition to climate regulations as an energy adviser for Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. Now serves as the country’s top energy regulator.

As the energy policy adviser to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, Mr. Chatterjee helped fight regulations Mr. McConnell considered cumbersome, like the Clean Power Plan rules restricting coal-fired power plants.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil. Recently the commission ruled that wind, solar and other clean energy sources can be assessed a surcharge when bidding into the country’s largest power market, a move aimed at propping up fossil fuels and potentially discouraging new investments in renewable power.
Daniel Simmons
Assistant Head of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Used to work for an organization that called for the elimination of the Department of Energy’s office of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Now he runs that office.

Mr. Simmons was vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, which is funded by fossil fuel interests, including Koch Industries. He held the same position at the group’s advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance, which once called for the elimination of the office of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The department’s mission is to help support the development of clean, renewable and energy efficiency technologies and support a global clean-energy economy.

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Any agency that writes a regulation — or rolls back a regulation — works with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. This obscure but powerful division of the White House Office of Management and Budget performs cost-benefit analyses on all regulatory actions before they are finalized. Some examples include the E.P.A.’s plan to weaken regulations on coal plants and the Interior Department’s plans to loosen protections for endangered species.

Paul Ray
Head of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Former corporate attorney who represented Exxon and other companies that fought environmental regulations. Now he runs the agency that oversees every regulation.

As a corporate attorney, Mr. Ray’s clients included chemical, oil and gas, and pharmaceutical companies as well as the paper and wood industry.

He will review every major regulation that the Trump administration proposes, and is responsible for carrying out Mr. Trump’s executive order directing agencies to repeal two regulations for each significant one they issue.