Two Trump administration officials are scheduled to speak at a conference in Houston next week hosted by one of the country’s leading think tanks questioning climate change.
The Heartland Institute lists both David Bernhardt, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, and Richard W. Westerdale II, a senior adviser at the State Department, as speaking at its America First Energy Conference on Nov. 9.
Heartland, which calls itself “the world’s most prominent think tank supporting skepticism about man-made climate change,” describes the conference as dedicated to examining the progress President Donald Trump has made in implementing his plans to expand U.S. energy production.
Among those also scheduled to speak is Myron Ebell, the prominent climate change skeptic who advised Trump during his transition into the White house, and Steve Milloy, founder of the website JunkScience.com.
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The attendance of Trump administration officials is drawing protest from environmental groups who say the White House is giving a platform to what is a fringe group of skeptics.
For instance, NASA describes a more than 95 percent probability that human activity is behind the warming trend that began in the mid-2oth century and is”proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.”
“Most [of the] speakers are the same Heartland climate denial crowd at every one of their meetings,” said Kert Davies, with the non-profit Climate Investigations Center.
Bernhardt, a Colorado native, served as solicitor general for the Interior Department under former President George W. Bush before returning to the Denver-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP.
Westerdale is a former staffer at Exxon Mobil, who advised senior executives during the period Secretary of State Rex Tillerson served as CEO of the oil giant, according to his LinkedIn profile. Westerdale joined the State Department in 2011, initially working out of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.