By Zack Colman, E&E News reporter
Published: Monday, August 21, 2017
Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House severed a line into President Trump’s inner circle for climate skeptics, degrading their influence on thorny policies on energy and the environment.
The ex-chief strategist was a direct line into the Oval Office for voices on climate change who had long operated on the fringe. Now, with Bannon returning to the Breitbart News Network, the right-wing publication he ran before joining Trump’s flagging campaign last year, climate skeptics are losing a key ally who pushed back against moderate forces.
“Bannon was a key climate skeptic in the Administration pushing President Trump to keep his pledge to withdraw from the UN Paris climate pact. Bannon’s voice overruled other members of the Administration,” Marc Morano, who runs the website Climate Depot, said in an email. Bannon outmaneuvered high-profile advisers such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, Morano noted.
The immediate impact is that populists who questioned climate science and sought to kneecap environmental regulations have lost an influential voice. For people like Tillerson, Cohn, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, it means a large hurdle in convincing Trump to take more moderate views on regulation, climate and international engagement is now gone, though many of Trump’s pro-fossil-fuel campaign promises are already underway.
Morano said Bannon kept attuned to the populist grass-roots movement that backed Trump and has broadly questioned mainstream climate science. He added that Bannon was instrumental in keeping Trump focused on his campaign promise to nix the accord and that his “departure will leave a void at the White House that will likely be filled by someone more accommodating to the DC Establishment.”
“And that is bad news for climate skeptics,” Morano said. “He will be missed.”