Watch List for Trump Federal Agency Appointments

November 29, 2016

TipSheet: Watch List for Trump Federal Agency Appointments

In the coming days,  President-elect Donald Trump is likely to nominate candidates for  major leadership positions at federal environmental and energy agencies. As that happens, journalists can refer for background to the trove of articles (like this one) on the short-listed candidates.
Some of the rumored possibles are known quantities, and a few aren’t. While pre-announcement rumor-mill stories are often speculative, they sometimes shed light on appointments once they are made.
Here are some of the meatiest leads.
Environmental Protection Agency
The reported appointment of Myron Ebell to lead the Trump transition team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seemed a clear signal to many writing about it. Ebell has for years worked as a climate denier — most recently for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He has also pooh-poohed concerns about the possible effects of pesticides on people's health.
But Ebell himself has not been considered a candidate for eventual nomination as administrator of the EPA. Among those who have been mentioned are lobbyists Jeff Holmstead and Mike Catanzaro and businessman Robert Grady.
Two others reported to have met (link requires subscription) with Trump and his transition team about the administrator job at EPA (or possibly some other job) are former Texas environmental commissioner Kathleen Hartnett White and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt [link updated Dec. 7, 2016].
Interior Department
Those mentioned for Interior secretary include Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Lucas Oil co-founder Forrest Lucas.
Sarah Palin speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 26, 2015. Photo: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Others mentioned are Mead Treadwell, a former lieutenant governor of Alaska; former Republican Rep. Richard Pombo, who chaired the House Natural Resources Committee from 2003 to 2007; former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis; and Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm (see Energy Department, below). Also mentioned is former Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez
While the cabinet-level secretary of the Interior post matters, much of the important business at Interior is carried out at its bureaus (like the Bureau of Land Management or the National Park Service). The short lists for those key appointments (most of which face Senate confirmation) may not come into sight for a while yet.
Energy Department
Energy policy will be a battleground during the coming administration — that is not news. But Trump’s vow to bring back coal and turn the oil spigots wide open is likely to make it more so. So far, Trump has not declared war on renewable energy — which might be likely to create more jobs than the fossil fuels he favors.
During the campaign, Oklahoma fracking magnate Harold Hamm emerged as a top Trump energy advisor, and Hamm is often mentioned as a possible energy secretary. He may be the top contender.
Others have been mentioned as well — they included North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, Robert Grady (see EPA, above) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Agriculture Department
Farm policy affects the environment in a lot more ways than many people are aware. For instance, pesticides and fertilizer affect the health of people and waterways. And the Agriculture Department, remember, contains and oversees the U.S. Forest Service. The year 2017 will be an important run-up in Congress to the 2018 Farm Bill, which will have loads of environmental consequences. The secretary of agriculture will be a key player.
Some of the names mentioned for Agriculture Secretary are Texas Secretary of Agriculture Sid Miller,  Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, former Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, businessman Charles Herbster and Indiana dairy executive Mike McCloskey.
Watch this space in the weeks to come for more tips on covering the incoming Trump administration.

* From the weekly news magazine SEJournal Online, Vol. 1, No. 5. Content from each new issue of SEJournal Online is available to the public via the SEJournal Online main page. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here. And see past issues of the SEJournal archived here.
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