Will Trump name Dr. Will Happer as Science Czar? As for now, a poli-sci grad runs the show

By: - Climate DepotFebruary 14, 2018 11:25 PM


A job that’s been held by some of the nation’s top scientists is now occupied by a 31-year-old politics major from Princeton University.

And it’s unlikely to change soon, observers say, leaving President Trump without a science adviser as the administration wrestles with a severe outbreak of the flu, lead-poisoned drinking water and record-breaking disasters that many scientists say are sharpened by rising temperatures.

More than a year into his term, Trump hasn’t identified a potential nominee for the key position held by prominent scientists in Republican and Democratic administrations alike. And it stands to get harder. There’s a razor-thin margin for Senate approval, and Trump’s critics and supporters could complicate the confirmation of anyone who rejects mainstream climate science.

That means the job falls to Michael Kratsios, the deputy assistant in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. At least for now. Kratsios graduated from Princeton in 2008 with a political science degree and a focus on Hellenic studies. He previously served as chief of staff to Peter Thiel, the controversial Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump ally.

The Senate showed its disapproval with ideological science nominees earlier this month. Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump’s pick to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, withdrew when faced with flagging Senate support. White denied that carbon dioxide was a pollutant, calling it the “gas of life” instead.

Happer envisions a similar outcome for himself.

“I would guess that the president feels that the sort of nominee that could pass muster with enough senators is someone that he probably doesn’t need,” said Happer, who’s still open to serving as science adviser. “It is unlikely I could get through a confirmation hearing because I would not weasel word.”