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As part of their investigation for Dispatches: President Trump’s Dirty Secrets, Vera uncovered some of the controversial figures surrounding Donald Trump and how their links to powerful corporations could have far-reaching consequences beyond America…..

Under President Trump the Paris Climate Agreement is a “dead letter”, the Clean Power Plan that’s reduced CO2 emissions will be dismantled, there will be drilling in the Arctic and three controversial oil pipelines across the US will get the go-ahead.

These are the claims made by Mike McKenna, the man who headed up the energy transition team for Trump and helped shape the president-elect’s energy policy.

Channel 4 Dispatches interviews McKenna as part of its investigation into the controversial figures now surrounding Donald Trump and their ties to powerful corporations that could have far-reaching consequences beyond America.

Dispatches travels to the US to speak to other climate change sceptics close to the Trump administration who see the new presidency as an opportunity to push their agendas.

Top Trump 1: Rex Tillerson, former head of ExxonMobil who struck oil and gas deals for ExxonMobil in Russia and the Arctic and now nominee for Secretary of State. Received an Order of Friendship from Vladimir Putin and a £147million payoff when he left ExxonMobil.

Top Trump 2: Scott Pruitt, Attorney General of Oklahoma. Trump wants him to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency – he has close links to several US energy firms, and has even sued the EPA on their behalf. When running for Attorney General, Pruitt received donations from ExxonMobil, Murray Energy and several other oil and gas companies.

Top Trump 3: Rick Perry, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Energy, has described climate change as a “contrived and phony mess.” He previously wanted to abolish the Department of Energy. Since he stepped down as Texas governor in 2015 he has earned more than $500,000 from two pipeline companies including Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), which owns the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. In 2016, when he stood for Republican candidate, ETP’s boss Kelcy Warren personally donated $5m.

Dispatches interview with Mike McKenna, former lead advisor on energy.
McKenna has now left the Trump energy team and gone back to his day job as a lobbyist for the energy industry. Dispatches looked at the official lobbying forms detailing McKenna’s earnings. They show that since the last election, he’s earned more than $2m lobbying for energy firms oil, gas and coal interests.

Mike McKenna clarified what he has been advising Trump on; “All areas, um, you know, from electricity to oil and gas to what we call mid-stream right pipelines, um, even downstream stuff involving gas stations.”

Interviewer: And you think now that Donald Trump has been elected you’re hopeful that his presidency will spell the end of the Clean Power Plan?

Michael McKenna: It’s impossible to imagine anything else would happen, you know. There’s been some lack of clarity on some things, um, inside the federal government domain, all the other things we’re talking about, but on this thing the president-elect has been remarkably consistent and direct.

Int: Okay, another area, the Paris Climate Agreement, um, we were hearing at one stage that the Trump presidency would pull, pull America out of that. What’s, what’s the thinking now?

MM: Um, I would expect that, it doesn’t really matter whether the president-elect withdraws officially or just ignores it, the practical effect is, is the same, right? So, I don’t, I don’t wanna say it’s a dead letter as far as the United States is concerned, but it’s pretty close to a dead letter.

Trump’s former adviser McKenna was confident that the President Elect will not only greenlight the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline but also two other contentious pipeline projects, the Keystone XL and the Alberta Clipper.

Int: Do you expect under the Trump presidency that these pipelines will get the go-ahead?

MM: I do. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t, right? Under the United States law they’re all on a posture that they can be approved by a President more or less immediately and I think that’s what’s gonna happen.

Int: What about more drilling, say drilling in the Arctic? We hear people saying that will happen. Drilling in the Arctic, yes or no?

MM: Yeah, I think the administration’s gonna be sensitive to that and try to encourage, um, some exploration and production out there.
Int: You’re getting paid by the oil industry, you’re putting, you’re putting arguments in favour of the oil industry.

MM: Sure, sure, you know, and it’s always tricky. I think at the end of the day, let’s assume most lobbyists are like this, I know I’m like this and that is, you know, you have a set of theories and beliefs about the world no matter who you are. And in a lot of cases, um, you find kindred spirits and they find you.

Int: Do you think anything has changed in the 2 or 3 weeks since you have left?

MM: No, I left an amazingly brilliant team in place, much smarter than I am and so, and we, they continue apace.


Producer/Director: Joanna Burge
Reporter: Antony Barnett
Executive Producer: Geoff Atkinson
Production Co: Vera Productions