The Trump Administration and the Environment: A Reporter's Primer
February 4, 2017
NYU Washington, DC and the Society of Environmental Journalists presented a mini conference to discuss water and energy issues, EPA policies, environmental advocacy and public opinion in the new Trump Administration.
Speakers included Myron Ebell, the head of the Trump transition team for EPA; Scott Segal, a fossil fuels industry attorney for Bracewell; Bob Perciasepe, Center for Climate & Energy Solutions and former Obama and Clinton EPA appointee; and a panel of reporters who have covered Donald Trump and his appointees to head EPA and the Department of Energy.
Meet the Organizers
Seth Borenstein, Associated Press writer and lecturer at NYU DC, has been a science and environmental journalist for more than 20 years, covering everything from hurricanes to space shuttle launches.
Seth Borenstein was part of an AP Gulf of Mexico oil spill reporting team that won the 2010 George Polk Award for Environment Reporting and a special merit award as part of the 2011 Grantham environment reporting prizes. He was part of a team of finalists for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Columbia space shuttle disaster. He is the co-author of three long out-of-print books, two on hurricanes and one on popular science. He lives in Kensington, Maryland, with his wife, Anne Marie, and two of his three sons (his third son is at Fordham University), where he coaches youth basketball and is a retired cub scout leader. He has flown in zero gravity and once tried out for Florida Marlins (unsuccessfully). And yes, he is related to the Eliot Borenstein, who is chairman of Russian and Slavic Studies at NYU; they’re brothers.
Cheryl Hogue is the Assistant Managing Editor at Chemical & Engineering News and covers national and international environmental issues.
Her areas of expertise include U.S. EPA research and regulation of chemicals, international climate change policy, global environmental treaties, global environmental treaties, governance of geoengineering, and federal regulatory policies.
Cheryl earned an M.S. in environmental sciences and policy from Johns Hopkins University after completing her B.S. in biology at the College of William and Mary. She was an elected member of the board of Society of Environmental Journalists from 2004-2010 and received their first place award for outstanding beat reporting in 2014.
G. Tracy Mehan III
G. Tracy Mehan III, who served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the administrations of both Presidents Bush, is the Executive Director of Government Affairs at American Water Works Association and an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law.
G. Tracy Mehan, III is national Source Water Protection Coordinator for the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and Adjunct Professor at George Mason University School of Law. He was Principal with The Cadmus Group, Inc., an environmental consulting firm, from 2004 to 2014. Mehan served as Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 2001-2003. He served as Environmental Stewardship Counselor to the 2004 G-8 Summit Planning Organization (2004). Mehan also served as director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes (1993-2001) and as Associate Deputy Administrator of EPA in 1992. He was director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources from 1989 to 1992. Mehan is a graduate of Saint Louis University and its School of Law. Mehan served on the Water Science and Technology Board and now the Committee on the Mississippi River and the Clean Water Act for the National Research Council of the National Academies. He was also an independent expert judge for the City Water Conservation Achievement Award program (2006 & 2011) sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and its Urban Water Council.
Mehan is a member of the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and a regular book reviewer for ELI's flagship publication, The Environmental Forum.
Mehan serves on EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board as well as the boards of the U.S. Water Alliance and the Great Lakes Observing System. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Environmental Policy, School of Public Affairs, American University and a past member of the board of the Potomac Conservancy (2006-2014).
EPA Policy at Large
Myron Ebell is director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which comprises representatives from more than two dozen non-profit organizations based in the United States and abroad that challenge global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies.
Ebell has worked on energy and environment issues for more than two decades, spending more than 15 years at CEI researching and advocating for sensible energy policies that benefit everyone. Instead of policies that simply reacts to alarmism, Ebell advocates for climate policies that reflect the scientifically-supported view that affordable, plentiful, and reliable energy make the world safer, the environment more livable, and should be should be accessible to those who need it most.
Ebell's writings have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Forbes, London’s Guardian, Standpoint Magazine, Riverside Press Enterprise, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Environmental Law Forum. He has appeared as a guest on numerous television shows, including the ABC Evening News, NBC Nightly News, PBS News Hour, BBC Newsnight, BBC World, CNBC, CNN, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, MSNBC, ITN, Voice of America, Televisa, Sky TV, Al Jazeera, PBS’s NOW, Fox News's Special Report with Bret Baier, O'Reilly Factor, and Hannity and Colmes. He has spoken frequently on a variety of BBC radio news programs and on hundreds of radio talk shows.
Ebell holds a B.A. from Colorado College and an M.S. from the London School of Economics. He also did graduate work at the University of California at San Diego and at Peterhouse, Cambridge University.
Scott Segal is head of the Policy Resolution Group and founder of the strategic communications practice at Bracewell LLP. He has over two decades of experience across a broad range of policy and communications issues, with particular experience dealing with energy, the environment, and natural resources.
Other areas of experience range from healthcare to financial services to trade and manufacturing issues. A practicing lawyer, Scott assists clients with effective participation in the legislative and regulatory processes.
Mr. Segal assists clients with strategic planning and communications in changed circumstances through public-affairs initiatives, monitoring, advocacy and negotiations with the United States Congress and administrative agencies of the federal government. He has testified before Congress and administrative agencies numerous times on matters related to energy and environmental policy.
Well informed on clients' issues of concern, Mr. Segal recognizes that his media contacts are looking for actual, real-world experience on important issues, not just message management. He is an articulate spokesman for Fortune 500 corporations on sensitive and progressive issues such as climate change, energy legislation and regulation, the Clean Air Act and fuel additives. He also is recognized as a reasonable, well-versed spokesman on broader energy and environmental issues and is quoted regularly in the national media, including offering commentary on network television and radio.
Mr. Segal taught law, policy development and communications at the University of Maryland (University College) and at Johns Hopkins University. Earlier in his career, he served as director of forensics at the University of Texas at Austin.
Inside the EPA
Bob Perciasepe is President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, which is widely recognized in the United States and internationally as a leading, independent voice for practical policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change.
Mr. Perciasepe has been an environmental policy leader in and outside government for more than 30 years, most recently as Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He is a respected expert on environmental stewardship, natural resource management, and public policy, and has built a reputation for bringing stakeholders together to solve issues.
While Mr. Perciasepe served as Deputy Administrator from 2009 to 2014, EPA set stricter auto emissions and mileage standards, increased protections for the nation’s streams and rivers, and developed carbon emissions standards for power plants. Mr. Perciasepe was previously assistant administrator for both the agency’s water and clean air programs, leading efforts improve the safety of America’s drinking water and lower sulfur levels in gasoline to reduce smog.
In 2002, Mr. Perciasepe joined the National Audubon Society, one of the nation’s oldest conservation organizations, as its senior vice president for public policy. He served as the group’s chief operating officer from 2004 to 2009, and worked to protect wetlands and expand environmental education.
He has also held top positions in state and municipal government -- as Secretary of the Environment for the state of Maryland from 1990 to 1993 and as a senior planning official for the city of Baltimore, where he managed the city’s capital budget.
Mr. Perciasepe is a member of the Bank of America National Community Advisory Council, the National Academy of Science Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, the National Petroleum Council, and the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance Steering Committee. He is also a member of the Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience Advisory Board at Antioch University and received American University's William K. Reilly Award for Environmental Leadership.
Mr. Perciasepe holds a master's degree in planning and public administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Science degree in natural resources from Cornell University.
Kenneth Kimmell, Union of Concerned Scientists
Ken Kimmell is president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a leading science-based nonprofit that combines the knowledge and influence of the scientific community with the passion of concerned citizens to build a healthy planet and a safer world. Mr. Kimmell has more than 30 years of experience in government, environmental policy, and advocacy. He is a national advocate for clean energy and transportation policies and a driving force behind UCS’s “Power Ahead” campaign to build a large and diverse group of clean energy leadership states.
Prior to joining UCS in May 2014, Mr. Kimmell was the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), an agency with a $100 million budget and 800 employees, including a large staff of scientists and engineers. As commissioner, he also served as chairman of the board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, helping to prod the nine member states to reduce power plant carbon emissions by almost 50 percent through 2020, reducing emissions in the region by some 90 million tons.
Mr. Kimmell has also served as general counsel at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs in Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s administration, and spent 17 years as the director and senior attorney at a Boston-based law firm specializing in environmental, energy, and land-use issues.
Mr. Kimmell decided to focus his legal work on environmental issues after clerking for the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where he assisted a judge in a case involving the health effects of Agent Orange. Originally from New York, he earned his bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan University and his law degree at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Mr. Kimmell has been quoted widely, including by the Associated Press, the Boston Globe, Bloomberg Business, the New York Times and the Washington Post, and has appeared numerous times on E&E TV and National Public Radio.
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz is NRDC’s Chief Program Officer. She coordinates NRDC’s programmatic work across the institution, focusing on achieving NRDC’s core priorities of curbing global warming and creating a clean energy future, reviving the world’s oceans, defending endangered wildlife and wild places, protecting our health by preventing pollution, ensuring safe and sufficient water, and fostering sustainable communities. She also chairs NRDC’s Clean Power Initiative.
Susan joined NRDC in 2000 as director of NRDC’s work in Canada, starting and leading the tar sands and Keystone XL campaigns. She then led NRDC’s International program and coordinated NRDC’s international work across the institution, including our work with partners on the ground in China, India, Canada, Latin America, and Europe as well as our global work on climate, energy, toxins, oceans, and wildlife. Prior to joining NRDC, Susan directed the Central and Eastern European program at the Environmental Law Institute and worked in Germany at the IUCN Environmental Law Center on developing country conservation treaty implementation. She received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1990 and a BA from the University of Virginia in 1986 in Latin American studies. She works out of NRDC’s Washington, D.C., office.
Jeff Ruch, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
Jeff Ruch has been the Executive Director of PEER since 1997. With Jeff DeBonis, he helped to start PEER and for its first four years served as General Counsel & Program Director. Prior to that Jeff was the Policy Director and a staff attorney at the Government Accountability Project representing whistleblowers from both the public and private sector. Before coming to DC, Jeff worked in California state government for 17 years, mostly in the State Legislature as counsel to various committees where he drafted literally hundreds of laws on topics ranging from energy conservation to the rights of employed inventors. Jeff served stints as a deputy district attorney, an appellate court clerk and is a graduate of the California Correctional Officers Academy.
Public Opinion and Climate Communications
Dr. Ed Maibach
Dr. Edward Maibach is a University Professor and Director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication (4C).
In the Department of Communication, he teaches seminars in climate change communication, strategic communication, and social marketing. His research currently focuses exclusively on how to mobilize populations to adopt behaviors and support public policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help communities adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change.
Dr. Maibach holds a BA in social psychology from University of California at San Diego (1980), an MPH in health promotion from San Diego State University (1983), and a PhD in communication research from Stanford University (1990).
Dr. Maibach previously had the pleasure to serve as Associate Director of the National Cancer Institute, Worldwide Director of Social Marketing at Porter Novelli, and Chairman of the Board for Kidsave International. He has also held academic positions at George Washington University and Emory University.
What students may not know about Dr. Maibach is that he helped plan a multi-billion dollar communication campaign for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the late 1990s.
Sarah Terry-Cobo, The Journal Record
Sarah Terry-Cobo is a reporter based in Oklahoma City, specializing in environmental science and policy and Latin American issues. She is a native Oklahoman, where she graduated from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor’s degree in environmental policy. After college she moved to California to attend UC Berkeley, where she graduated with a master’s in journalism and master’s in Latin American studies. She began as a print reporter, but has expanded her skills with audio production and data visualizations.
Jill Colvin, Associated Press
Jill Colvin is a national political reporter for The Associated Press and covered the 2016 presidential race.
Before joining the AP, Jill covered New York City Hall, crime and local news for the New York Observer, DNAinfo New York and other publications. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Canada’s Globe and Mail.
Jill is a graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She also holds a Master’s degree in sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Andrew Revkin, The New York Times
Andrew Revkin is the senior reporter for climate and related issues at ProPublica. He joined the newsroom in December 2016, after 21 years of writing for The New York Times, most recently through his Dot Earth blog for the Opinion section, and six years teaching at Pace University.