At least half a dozen former aides to Inhofe -- and counting -- have been hired into top positions at the EPA and the White House. The chief of staff and deputy chief of staff to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a fellow Oklahoman and longtime friend of Inhofe, spent years working for the senator. Pruitt's senior advisers on air, climate and legal issues are Inhofe alumni. In addition, two former Inhofe aides have become top domestic and international energy and environmental advisers to President Trump. [...]Ryan Jackson, Inhofe's former chief of staff, helps account for part of why so many of the senator's aides are now helping guide the administration's policymaking. Jackson, who helped shepherd Pruitt's nomination, then became the administrator's chief of staff and started tapping his former colleagues for top agency posts.
There are distinct spheres of influence inside Donald Trump's political operation. There's the Breitbart Wing, made up on several White House aides who worked for the right-wing website; the Goldman Sachs Wing, made up of a growing number of folks who joined the administration after stints at the Wall Street giant; and the Jeff Sessions Wing, which includes both the U.S. Attorney General and some of his former Senate aides who now hold key posts in the Trump administration.But let's not forget that Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of the nation's highest profile climate deniers, seems to have a contingent of his own. The Washington Post reported yesterday:
Stephen Brown, vice president for government affairs at Tesoro, a major oil refiner, told the Post, "The Inhofe brigade has landed, secured the beach and is moving inland with precision as well as speed."For those who agree with Oklahoma Republican, this metaphor may sound quite appealing: a militarized group of Inhofe aides are exerting influence in the executive branch, to the delight of their corporate allies in the oil and gas industry.For those concerned about the environment, the news is less encouraging."Inhofe was like the original climate-denier in chief. He was one of the first people spouting this gibberish -- fact-free but dangerous gibberish," Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, told the Post. "Now he and his cronies have far more reach and are far more dangerous than they've ever been.... That's good news for the polluters but horrible news for public health."Gallup published a report yesterday that found Americans' concerns about the climate crisis have reached record highs, with most of the public agreeing that global warming is occurring; it's a serious threat; and it's the result of human activity.The Inhofe brigade isn't likely to care.