Once again, Trump has nominated Barry Myers, a totally unqualified, wildly corrupt businessman accused of sexual harassment to lead a major climate change research agency.
This is actually Myers THIRD time being nominated. But while the idea hasn’t gotten any better, the Senate is rushing his nomination through without so much as a committee hearing – which might indicate they intend to install another Trump loyalist before anyone notices.
Here’s the short version – Trump nominated Barry Myers to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) because he’s the CEO of AccuWeather – a private forecasting company you might know from annoying pop up ads on your phone. But Myers isn’t a scientist, and while at AccuWeather he spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress to dumb down NOAA research and stop them from giving away weather and climate data for free. Oh, and like Trump, Myers’ entire business is under investigation for a pervasive culture of sexual harassment that went all the way to the top.
NOAA is an important agency in the fight against climate change. They maintain a fleet of satellites, fly planes into hurricanes, and most important they share all the temperature and weather data they gather with scientists and the public for free. Their research and data has formed the backbone of big parts of our National Climate Assessments and global reports on the increasing pace and severity of climate change.
But Myers is no scientist. He’s the former head of AccuWeather, a for-profit weather prediction company that makes money selling forecasts to consumers on their phones, computers and TVs. As such, Myers spent years and millions of dollars on a quixotic and (thankfully) unsuccessful lobbying campaign to make Congress force NOAA to stop giving away climate and weather data for free.
Obviously, putting a guy who spent years trying to privatize and abolish a government agency in charge of that same agency is a terrible idea — though not a new one from Trump, see also David Bernhardt and Andrew Wheeler. That’s why the Senate blocked Myers’ nomination multiple times in the past.
Since then, Myers has sold his share of AccuWeather to his family, but even that looks shady: Not only is it reminiscent of Trump’s kids running his business (clearly still at his direction and to his personal benefit) while he’s in office, Myers sold his shares at a deep discount with the option to repurchase the stock later. It’s an obvious conflict of interest that he can personally benefit from his actions as head of NOAA, and it’s the sort of thing that would only happen in an Administration as famously corrupt as Trump’s.
And finally, it’s worth remembering that while Myers ran the company AccuWeather was home to sexual harassment “so severe and pervasive, that some female employees resigned,” according to a Department of Labor. Myers tried to make the issue go away by settling with survivors last year, admitting that AccuWeather subjected women to “sexual harassment and a hostile work environment” that the company did “not exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct.”
The pattern is clear. Trump has nominated another corrupt, unqualified business man with a history of sexual harassment and hostile workplace investigations to lead an agency with an important mission for researching and stopping climate change. The Senate already failed to stop former oil and gas lobbyists from running the EPA and Department of interior. Let’s make sure they stop this one from running NOAA too.