President-elect Donald Trump added another climate change denier to his incoming cabinet by tapping Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to be his new secretary of the Department of the Interior, Reuters reports.
"U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will pick U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a climate-change skeptic and an advocate for expanded oil and gas development, to run the Interior Department, a Trump aide said on Friday," the Reuters report reads. "The appointment could mean easier access for industry to more than a quarter of America's territory, ranging from national parks to tribal lands stretching from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, where energy companies have been eager to drill and mine."
Earlier this week, Trump announced that he had chosen Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt is also a climate change denier, and he is known for favoring deregulation.
Though Trump has said he values clean water, his choices of Scott Pruitt and McMorris Rodgers suggest otherwise. https://t.co/5SK7sU1Pp2Naming Pruitt to head the EPA, an agency that many feel he would rather disband than effectively lead, seemed like a cruel irony perpetrated by Trump. It left environmentalists and conservationists in a rage.
— The Intercept (@theintercept) December 9, 2016
Putting McMorris Rodgers at the helm of the interior has added fuel to the fire of the environmentalists' rage.
"Selling off our public lands to the highest bidder and opening them to drilling, mining and logging is not in the best interest of our country, but that is exactly what Rep. McMorris Rodgers has voted to do over and over again," the Sierra Club said in a Facebook post calling for senators to oppose McMorris Rodgers nomination. "America's public lands are vital to our shared history, our national identity, our economy, and perhaps most importantly, our future."
Other critics of Trump's choice were not so diplomatic.
"In what has sadly become a reoccurring theme of Donald Trump's transition, his expected pick for Secretary of the Interior, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, constitutes a slap in the face of science," Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter told the progressive news outlet Common Dreams. "Ms. McMorris Rodgers is a proud climate denier who has voted consistently against common-sense environmental protections, rules for fossil fuel drilling on public lands, and virtually anything seen as a hinderance to big oil and gas companies making more money."
McMorris Rodgers will be replacing Sally Jewell as head of the Department of the Interior.
President Barack Obama nominated Jewell for the position in February of 2013. Prior to serving at the interior, Jewell was CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc., a retailer specializing in sporting goods and outdoor recreational services based out of Kent, Washington. She had also worked as an engineer for an oil company.
Obama felt that this combination of knowledge from two areas that often come into conflict at the Department of the Interior made Jewell uniquely qualified.
"She knows the link between conservation and good jobs," Obama said, according to a contemporary report from the New York Times. "She knows that there's no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress, that, in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand."
The Times referred to Jewell as a "longtime advocate for conservation and outdoor recreation" in the article.
McMorris Rodgers has served Washington's 5th congressional district since 2005. She is the "fourth most senior member of the House leadership," according to Reuters.
In the midst of the Standing Rock protests and debate over the future of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the appointment of McMorris Rodgers may be particularly troubling to Native American activists and their allies.
McMorris Rodgers supported the Native American Energy Act, which would have made it easier for oil and natural gas companies to drill on Native American lands. President Obama ultimately vetoed the bill. It is unlikely that Trump would veto a similar bill should one pass.
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