Trump using 'Stalinist tactics' to discredit climate change, as federal judge stops drilling plan
Donald Trump may be setting up a climate change panel specifically to help spread confusion and cast doubt on something that is very definitely happening, but that doesn’t mean everyone is confused. As the Guardian writes in an opinion column, Trump is using “Stalinist tactics” to set up a climate change panel staffed with nothing but professional climate change skeptics, with the goal of removing concerns about climate disruptions, rising seas, and infrastructure challenges from defense planning. In the process, Trump will be putting both the military, and the nation, at increased risk. It’s a panel that “echoes the campaign by Joseph Stalin’s regime” to discredit scientists who failed to support Soviet mythology.
But as Trump is trying to tear down science, a federal district judge in the state of Washington is keeping consideration of climate change from falling off the government’s agenda. As the Washington Post reports, Judge Rudolph Contreras has ruled that the Interior Department violated federal law by not considering climate change when it opened up new areas for oil and gas leasing. This is the first ruling in which failure to address climate change has formed the basis of an objection to a proposed rule change. The judge has now blocked drilling on 300,000 acres.
The ruling may be a first, but it forms a foundation for future challenges—which is part of why the Trump White House is working hard to both fight the ruling and install its climate-change-denying panel. In the judge’s opinion, if greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change, the Interior Department can’t take action without taking climate change into account. If that ruling is upheld, it could be applied to other proposed rule changes, and not just those proposed by the Interior Department.
However, if Trump’s climate-change-doubting panel produces a report that disparages the scientific information, that could in turn be used to justify not only removing climate considerations from policy planning, but as a basis to challenge rulings like that of Judge Contreras. Trump’s panel will be headed by someone without a science background and with no knowledge of climate—but someone who was on Trump’s transition team and who has been funded by both fossil fuel companies and Republican billionaires.
Judge Contreras has not invalidated the leases given to companies under the new policy, but has simply suspended development of those leases pending the Interior Department producing a report on the climate change impact that would result.