White House national trade adviser Peter Navarro, a rising power in the White House, has supported a tax on carbon, promoted wind energy and been endorsed by the environmental group Sierra Club, E&E News reported.
Navarro is a favorite to replace President Donald Trump’s outgoing top economic adviser Gary Cohn. Cohn announced he was resigning as Trump touted plans to raise tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, which Cohn argued against.
Navarro has gained favor in the White House over his nationalist views and support for tariffs. Administration officials are now considering Navarro to take Cohn’s place on the National Economic Council, Vox reported.
Prior to joining the Trump White House, Navarro commonly advocated another issue, global warming. He was an “environmental pit bull” while running decades ago for political office in San Diego. He was not successful and eventually got into energy research and academics.
Navarro championed the Sierra Club’s endorsement while campaigning. The environmental group often campaigns against fossil fuel development and has launched multiple lawsuits over the Trump administration’s “America First” energy policy.
“Global climate change resulting from the widespread burning of fossil fuels has the potential to be one of the most important environmental problems of our time,” Navarro said in a 2000 paper co-written with a doctoral student in economics, according to E&E News. At the time, Navarro was an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine.
“Global warming is a very significant problem and that carbon dioxide emissions are the principal cause of global warming,” the paper read.
“Economists correctly and perennially argue that the most efficient and direct path to American energy independence and clean skies would simply be to tax oil imports and gasoline as well as carbon,” Navarro wrote supporting a carbon tax, E&E News reported.
The Sierra Club has since rescinded its support of Navarro because of “his myopic worldview and work on behalf of a hateful, xenophobic administration.”
Navarro has changed his emphasis since his days as a political candidate, transitioning from environmentally conscious Democrat to economic nationalist and Trump supporter.
“He’s an environmental opportunist,” Scott Flexo, Navarro’s pollster during a 1992 campaign for San Diego mayor, said according to E&E News. “I think he would focus on the environment if it would sell books or if it would get him jobs or get him elected. There really wasn’t a commitment to environmental issues, and you could see that in his behavior and after the election.”
Navarro will likely leave his avid environmentalism in the past and join with other like-minded Trump officials to focus on what he and the president agree on.
“Clearly, the nationalist voices are stronger in the Trump White House than they’ve ever been before,” Council on Foreign Relations trade expert Edward Alden told Vox. “There’s no particularly effective counter to the triumvirate of [Commerce Secretary Wilbur] Ross, Navarro, and [US Trade Representative Robert] Lighthizer.”
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