President Donald Trump nominated a businessman who runs a media empire that forecasts the weather to lead a government agency that conducts climate research and assesses climate change.
Trump chose Barry Myers, who has served since 2007 as CEO of AccuWeather, a media company providing worldwide weather predictions, to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Myers has degrees in law and business, but no science background.
The White House called him “one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of weather information.” Trump picked him to serve as the Commerce Department’s under-secretary for oceans and atmosphere, which oversees NOAA, an agency that operates weather satellites as well as a climate data center.
Opponents of the pick suggest Trump’s choice is another example of what they call the president’s inclination to chalk his administration with people who have conflicts of interest. They also believe Myers could use his position to help benefit AccuWeather.
“Barry Myers defines ‘conflict of interest,’” Ciaran Clayton, who was communications director at NOAA in the Obama administration, told reporters Thursday. “He actively lobbied to privatize the National Weather Service, which works day in and day out to protect the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans, to benefit his own company’s bottom line.”
Trump has nominated several people from the private sector to head agencies within his administration. He and EPA chief Scott Pruitt have decided to direct the EPA and other agencies to place more of an onus on the impact regulations have on industry than in previous administrations.
He picked coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler in July to be Pruitt’s second lieutenant.
The White House was poised to select Jeff Holmstead, a former top EPA official under President George W. Bush. Holmstead would be a more moderate choice compared to Wheeler, who has been more public about his skeptical position on climate change than Holmstead.
Wheeler is a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the coal mining company whose CEO is an adamant Trump supporter. He has lobbied on behalf of CEO Robert Murray and other coal producers since at least 2009, according to lobbying disclosure data.
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