Trump EPA transition insider: Trump “doesn’t owe the West a lot.”

He touted the fact that while he originally hoped for a 10 percent EPA cut, the figure today is more like 30 percent, a remark that won hearty applause.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo
Myron Ebell, who led the EPA transition for President Donald Trump, addressed a crowd at the Independence Institute in Denver on March 16, 2017. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

Myron Ebell, who led the EPA transition for President Donald Trump, addressed a crowd at the Independence Institute in Denver on March 16, 2017. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

Myron Ebell, who worked for President Donald Trump to install new leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency, said that EPA haters will have to work particularly hard to reduce the federal government’s control and regulation of Western landscapes and environments.

“The problem that you as Westerners in a federal-land state have is, President Trump made a lot of promises on, for example climate,” he said. “… But on federal lands, he did not make a lot of promises. And moreover, he doesn’t owe the West a lot.”

He was referring to the fact that Colorado and the West are filled with land owned by the federal government, from the national parks to the Bureau of Land Management’s more-utilitarian areas. Some conservatives have long wanted that land to go either to smaller governments or to be sold.

“If you agree with me that a regulatory rampage is going on, the worst part is on federal lands,” Ebell said.

Trump has made little indication he’ll do that, according to Ebell, and one early effort to sell federal land went down in flames. Additionally, Ebell said, Trump’s victory wasn’t particularly dependent on Western voters.

So, by Ebell’s thinking, anti-regulation advocates in the West might not expect the federal government to start selling off its lands. He encouraged his conservative crowd to argue for “access” to federal lands — to say that it is the right of the people to drill, drive and hunt on federal lands.

Protections of the greater sage grouse are in the crosshairs of many conservatives.  (Bob Wick / BLM)

Protections of the greater sage grouse are in the crosshairs of many conservatives. (Bob Wick / BLM)

Ebell said practically no one in the EPA supports Trump’s agenda.

“Out of 14,700, we identified three people,” he said. “… One of them is in North Carolina, and one of them’s going to retire this summer.”

Perhaps that’s not surprising, as Ebell wants the U.S. to consider the outright elimination of the agency, and he said that Trump has talked about the same goal. A large cut, he said, is a good first step toward total abolishment.

He noted that some 3,200 EPA jobs could be eliminated across the nation. “I hope that includes a lot of regional people,” he said, referring to offices like the EPA regional headquarters in Denver.

He touted the fact that while he originally hoped for a 10 percent EPA cut, the figure today is more like 30 percent, a remark that won hearty applause.

Ebell later argued that the EPA already has fixed the problems that led President Richard Nixon to establish the agency in 1970.

“The environmental movement has started a long time ago attacking even the most modest reforms of the EPA … as attacks on the environment,” said Ebell, a graduate of Colorado College and the London School of Economics.

“Most of the goals of those laws have been fulfilled,” he said. Now, the “work of monitoring and implementing those pollution laws” has largely been handed down to the states.

Of course, many of the climate-change efforts that Trump has called into question have only just begun. Trump has said he’ll kill the Clean Power Plan and the Paris climate agreement.

In an interview after his speech, Ebell said that it was possible mankind is not accelerating global warming through its output of greenhouse gases, despite the scientific consensus. He also said that we simply can’t plan far enough in advance to address climate change through any other means but the free market and technological advances.

And he was optimistic, he said, that the new administration holds the same views. So far, it seems they do.