From deep within the Trump campaign come rumors that The Donald is considering one if not two oil industry executives as members of his cabinet. According to Politico, the Trump has identified Forrest Lucas as a possible pick to run the Interior Department. That agency oversees 500 million acres of public lands, including America’s 413 national parks. It is tasked with the protection of endangered species and oversees federal oil, gas, and coal reserves.
Lucas is a co-founder and president of Lucas Oil, a major manufacturer and distributor of automotive lubricants and oils. Critics contend that an Interior Department run by Lucas would be a windfall for the oil and gas industry. “At this rate, Donald Trump’s cabinet meetings will be so oil-soaked that they’ll need fire retardant carpeting installed in the White House out of fear of setting the place on fire,” Sierra Club political director Khalid Pitts has said. “Putting an oil executive in charge of our public lands and precious coasts in places like North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida is a virtual guarantee that Trump’s promise to throw open season on drilling in our special places will come true if he’s elected.”
One of the favorite mantras of the “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd is that public lands should be open to private industry, particularly those in the oil, gas, and coal business. For generations, those companies have exploited public lands to extract natural resources at well below market rates. In other words, the citizens and taxpayers of the nation have been subsidizing these companies in their quest to wrest every molecule of fossil fuel that lies beneath the surface of those publicly held lands.
With Lucas leading the way, the American people should expect an end to the policies instituted by the Obama administration, including the Interior Department’s current pause and review of the federal coal leasing program. Steps that have been taken to increase transparency and guarantee a fair return to taxpayers from fossil fuel leases on public lands would also be in jeopardy. In addition, policies that have set aside lands for conservation, offered protection to endangered species and which address climate change would also be subject to being cancelled by Lucas as Secretary of the Interior.
Critics also fear that major portions of America’s national parks would be sold to the highest bidder, forever removing them from the protections they have enjoyed since Theodore Roosevelt created the national parks system. Roosevelt, it should be pointed out, was a Republican at a time when that word was more than just a convenient label for reactionaries.
Lucas is also known as an active supporter of the anti-animal rights movement. In 2014, Lucas founded Protect the Harvest, a nonprofit group that “exists to defend our way of life, preserve our food freedom, and stand up for your right to farm, fish, hunt, eat meat, and own animals,” according to its website. The group also actively organizes opposition to the Humane Society of the United States, which it calls a “radical” animal rights group.
Another anti-animal rights advocate mentioned as possible cabinet material is oil and gas executive Harold Hamm who has made billions in profits from the oil and gas extracted via fracking in the Bakken shale region. He has established his own Agricultural Advisory Committee which the Humane Society calls a “royal flush of animal protection haters.”
Trump has said repeatedly that he would withdraw the United States from its commitments made at the COP21 climate summit in Paris last December. He promises to reinvigorate the coal industry in America and would likely eviscerate the Clean Power Plan proposed by the Obama administration to rein in carbon emissions from extracting and burning coal.
In other words, a Trump administration would be an unmitigated disaster for the environment and the American people. Rather than making America great again, Donald Trump will make the United States into a pariah among the world’s nations, wreaking havoc on the environment while trampling on human rights and individual liberties. All of which are reasons for every registered voter to go to the polls this November.
The crazies and the lunatics will be sure to register their votes. This election is a referendum on the future of America. There is only one way America will remain a great nation, and electing a bigoted, misanthropic know nothing is not the way to accomplish that goal.