Some 200 people gathered in center city Philadelphia on Monday to urge Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators to reject President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for key environmental positions in his new administration.
The demonstrators rallied in freezing weather outside Democratic Senator Bob Casey’s office before holding up traffic to march several blocks to the office of Republican Senator Pat Toomey.
The event was one of a series around the country on Monday in which environmental groups including the Sierra Club and 350.org urged lawmakers to vote against Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency; ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to become Secretary of State; former Texas Governor Rick Perry to run the Department of Energy, and Ryan Zinke, a Republican Senator from Montana, to lead the Interior Department.
Protesters, carrying signs such as “Stop the Climate Denier Cabinet”, and “Climate Change is Real”, said all the nominees are deniers of climate change, and would reverse efforts by the Obama administration to cut carbon emissions from sources such as power stations and private cars.
President-elect Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
“They don’t accept that the vast majority of scientists believe that climate change is happening and it’s something we need to take action now,” said Sue Edwards, a member of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club. “And I think they’ll go in the opposite direction and foster more fossil fuel development.”
Casey, a supporter of efforts to slow climate change, issued a statement saying he has “serious concerns” with the nominations and that each nominee should be committed “to tackling the urgent issue of climate change.”
Steve Kelly, a spokesman for Toomey, was asked to respond to the protesters’ demands but said only that the Senator appreciates hearing from all Pennsylvanians.
“When considering any issue or measure before the Senate, Senator Toomey keeps the thoughts of all Pennsylvanians in mind,” Kelly said.
Sandy Folzer, a protester from the Chestnut Hill neighborhood in Philadelphia, said she wanted to urge the Republican-dominated Congress to at least scrutinize the nominees’ records rather than just rubber-stamping them.
“I’m afraid that Congress is saying ‘oh, we’ll just go ahead and accept them,’” Folzer said. “And I think it’s quite a danger to the country. I’m personally very afraid.”
Folzer said she fears Philadelphia will be subjected to the hotter weather and rising seas that have already affected low-lying areas such as South Florida and coastal Alaska because of rising global temperatures.