Reagan, Bush EPA chiefs endorse Clinton, say Trump ‘hasn’t a clue’

By Evan Lehmann | 08/09/2016 08:44 AM EDT

Two Republican U.S. EPA administrators endorsed Hillary Clinton for president today, saying that Donald Trump’s views on climate change and other environmental issues pushed them to reject their party’s nominee.

William Ruckelshaus, who held the top EPA post under Presidents Nixon and Reagan, and William Reilly, who served under President George H.W. Bush, said Trump is undermining the Republican Party’s legacy on conservation.

"Donald Trump has shown a profound ignorance of science and of the public health issues embodied in our environmental laws," the former officials said in a statement released by the Clinton campaign. They added that Trump "hasn’t a clue" about the environmental achievements of their party, such as the creation of EPA under Nixon and the enactment of the Montreal Protocol under Reagan.


"That Trump would call climate change a hoax — the singular health and environmental threat to the world today — flies in the face of overwhelming international science and the public conviction and commitment of almost 200 national governments that adopted the Paris Agreement on climate change in December 2015," the two former officials wrote. "Our leadership was essential to that agreement. To back away now, as Trump wants to do, would set the world back decades — years we could never recover. The young people in this country deserve far better than that as our legacy."

Ruckelshaus and Reilly have a history of diverging from their party over climate change. In 2013, they joined two other Republican EPA administrators, Lee Thomas and Christine Todd Whitman, in calling on Congress to pass a carbon tax or some other ambitious legislation to address rising temperatures. The foursome applauded Obama’s executive actions to reduce emissions as a good starting point.

Whitman, who also served two terms as New Jersey governor, said earlier this summer that she plans to vote for Clinton.

Trump, in a December rally in South Carolina, described climate change as a "hoax" that’s being pursued by Democrats and their allies in order to profit from investments in renewable energy and other low-carbon projects. He has also mocked the Montreal Protocol, without naming it, by casting doubt on the harmful impact that some substances have on the ozone layer.

Yesterday, Trump promoted policies that would expand domestic oil and gas drilling, onshore and offshore, while promising to strengthen the slumping coal industry. He called for rolling back environmental and energy regulations established under President Obama. He didn’t explicitly target the Clean Power Plan, the cornerstone of Obama’s climate policy for the electricity sector, but Trump has said in the past that he would revoke it.

"For us, there is simply no choice in this election," Ruckelshaus and Reilly said. "We Republicans should be shocked, outraged even, at the prospect that all this progress, this legacy will be repudiated and rolled back by Donald Trump. This is a hugely consequential election; the stakes are that high. That is why as Republicans, we support Hillary Clinton for President."