WASHINGTON – Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said many federal employees are leaving the Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over “fear” that the Trump administration is going to “suppress their viewpoints” or move them to irrelevant positions.
Beyer, ranking member of the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Oversight, was asked if he would have full access to the “unfiltered” final version of the latest federal government report on climate change. The New York Times published a leaked draft of the report, which was submitted to the Trump administration for review.
“The majority members of my committee may get access to it if they ask for it. I don’t think it’s routinely shared with us. One of things that I was proudest about in government, whether it is Democrat-led or Republican-led, is when it’s transparent and, once again, I think the Obama administration did a very good job at transparency. The fear right now – I hope it is a needless fear, but clearly the people who leaked the report did not think so – was that a very important initiative like this put together by all these different agencies might never see the light of day, which is why it got leaked,” Beyer said during an discussion in Washington hosted by the United Nations Association of the U.S.A.
“Thank goodness it is in the public sphere and we can now look at it and fully take it apart. But, unfortunately, we are seeing so many people bail from NOAA and the EPA because they feel that they are in a position where the administration’s leadership is going to suppress their viewpoints or move them to a place where they are not relevant. I wish that were not true,” he added.
Beyer, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said climate change should not be considered a “partisan” issue up for debate between liberals and conservatives.
“You know, climate change, one of the things I’ve been arguing now for years is that climate change should not be a partisan issue. It should not be Democrats against Republicans or liberals against conservatives and it should not be a matter of religious belief either. We should be looking at the science and looking at the facts together and making the best decisions that we can,” he said.
During the discussion titled “Congress and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Lawmaker’s Perspective on Strong U.S. Leadership in the UN and on Climate Action,” Beyer endorsed a carbon tax and said the American people would be able to adjust their lives accordingly.
“I am a huge proponent of a carbon tax. We need to price carbon appropriately, and I’m not alone. I was with the CEO of UPS last night who said, ‘that’s part of our platform even though we drive all those brown trucks around, we can stand a gas tax increase, especially if it goes to helping infrastructure and the like.’ ExxonMobil, BP, [Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson was for a carbon tax, at least when he was at ExxonMobil,” he said.
“And so there are very real things we can do. Appropriately price carbon and you get a very different reaction to climate change across the country, people adapt on vehicle miles traveled, where they live, the kind of cars they buy, the decisions they make about appliances in really important ways, and that’s not going to happen at a local level,” he added.