It’s confirmed: Donald Trump has a serious Koch problem. Given his belief that global climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, it’s unsurprising that Trump has appointed vocal climate skeptics to key roles in his transition team. It’s even less surprising that these appointees have deep ties to the Koch Brothers’ political machine.
Trump’s transition team appointed former Koch lobbyist Mike McKenna to lead teams related to the Department of Energy. McKenna has longstanding ties to the American Energy Alliance and the Institute for Energy Research. These groups have received nearly $5 million and over $1 million respectively from Koch-backed groups. Even before McKenna officially joined Team Trump, the influence of the American Energy Alliance and the Institute for Energy Research on the campaign was apparent: Trump has taken to citing sham studies from the Institute for Energy Research on the stump.
Trump has appointed Myron Ebell, a leading climate change denier, to lead his EPA transition team. Ebell is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank funded largely by the Koch brothers. Ebell has called global climate change “nothing to worry about” and would undermine EPA efforts to mitigate environmental harm.
While publicly distancing themselves from Trump, it was never in doubt that the Kochs would find some mechanism to influence the billionaire nominee. Should Trump prevail in November, the Koch political machine will have an outsize influence on his energy and environmental policies. Unlike Ebell’s views on climate change, that’s not “nothing to worry about.”