EPA Transition Team: the Koch Brothers?

An article published in Reuters highlights Donald Trump’s EPA transition team and each member’s connection to the oil and mining industry. The transition team, according to the article, is tasked with preparing the EPA for new leadership. Overall, the message was clear: this star-studded lineup may foreshadow how the EPA will enforce environmental regulations under the Trump administration.

The piece serves as one long body and fails to describe how the connection to these industries may influence the EPA. It was unclear what actions the transition team could make and how any of these possible actions may affect environmental regulations in the future. It would have been ideal to expand upon this as there was little applicability for the information provided. Also, the lack of a kicker left the article on an anticlimactic note, failing to excite the reader. Personally, I finished the article feeling dissatisfied and yearning for something more.

What additional information would have satisfied the disconnect between the descriptions of team members and the possible influence on environmental regulations? If you do feel there was sufficient information, I would be interested in why you felt that way.   

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12 Responses to “EPA Transition Team: the Koch Brothers?”

  1. Aaron, I agree with you that the article is lacking some added detail with a kicker. This seems less of a news feature and more of an informative piece. Even the title hints that the article will just talk about the Trump’s new team. The article simply states the new people coming into lead the EPA team. It lacks any arguments from different sides. To make this article more intriguing and more of a news feature it would be better to have people supporting and against this new EPA team to give their opinion on future outcomes. It also doesn’t have any statistics in the nut graph. The only part of a news feature that I see in this is a good lede describing how it is a pro-drilling lobby.

    • Thanks for the insights Andrew. I was curious as to why the structure of the piece was so bland, especially when information on the current transition team just came out.

  2. I was also disappointed that the author of this article didn’t include more information regarding the impacts this new EPA team will have on current environmental policies and regulations. However, I’ve appreciated seeing more articles in the news in general lately that delve into the why certain officials have been appointed to various government offices and positions, and I think that may have been more of the focus for this piece. I thought it was interesting to see the hidden political and financial connections that many members of this EPA team have with Trump and other higher ups through his campaign. Several of the questions we’ve been trying to ask of our class speakers are what motivates their actions and why they see an issue a certain way; therefore, I think this journalist did a fairly good job in addressing those questions.

  3. This article uncovers an important issue that will greatly affect the future of environmental regulation yet the authors fail to establish credibility in the story-making me question the accuracy of their reporting. For example, the authors make assertions about public sentiment without backing them up or providing context (when the author claims people’s expectations about Trump’s plan to slash environmental regulation are being reinforced, yet there are no quotes) There were also no links to cited sources-such as to the email list that is mentioned sin the first couple paragraphs. It also seems that the lede is serving more as a nut graph in the story.

  4. Hi Aaron, I’m glad you picked such a subject. I think its important to scrutinize personal the personnel changes occurring in DC, especially within the EPA. If the goal of this article was to give brief descriptions of each team member, then it did its job well. Unfortunately, there is much more about this shift that could have been said. Though the article did well in describing some of the previous financial ties these candidates have had, I would be interested to know how these will carry through to their positions in the EPA. Are they still obligated to fulfill the interests of the Koch Brothers? Something that could have improved this article would be a conclusion that ties the body together, and discusses what the selection of these individuals could mean for US climate policy.

  5. I wonder if all news articles that we read will follow the format that we have learned in class (lead, nut graf, body, and kicker)? In my opinion, each article that we encounter does not necessarily have to include all four points. Yes, a grabber at the beginning would be nice, and a few statistics could have been used to back the points the writer makes. However, if the writer conveys his/her information in an effective manner that is enjoyable for the reader, I have no issues with not following the traditional format
    However, I do agree with all of the points above that this article leaves the reader dissatisfied. Instead of broadly listing all of the new members of the EPA team, I wish the writer went in-depth, covering a few members in detail by describing what potential impact they will have as new members of the government.

    • Arjan:
      In response to your question about whether every article needs to follow the format we discussed in class, I would say that generally the answer is yes. But based on the focus of the piece and the type of information it is intended to convey, those elements might be conveyed differently. So there may be a great deal of quotes or just a few, depending upon the length of the piece and the way it is framed. But every piece should include a compelling beginning, a nut graph telling the reader why the story is important and worth writing, evidence for the claims the piece is making and an ending that nicely concludes the piece.

  6. The article does well to introduce the EPA transition team and note key parts of their background; but I agree that I was left yearning for more at the end of the article. The lede and nut graph were both compelling to me. The lede is strong because it puts the Trump administration and pro-drilling in the first sentence to intrigue readers from many backgrounds. The nut graph plants seeds that I imagined would grow into more of a discussion; the data is intriguing and the names are newsworthy. But as the story develops there isn’t much of a news allusion as to the actions that could be taken in the future. It would have been more compelling to discuss how these key players in the energy industry would direct the EPA, rather than give an introduction and slight background of all the members. I think it was this discussion of each member that also led to the lack of a kicker at the end of the article.

  7. I think what was most interesting was the way it introduced the team members and then connected them each back to the Koch brothers. It reads almost like a mystery novel. However, besides that, it doesn’t feel like the author is leading toward anything. Instead, it merely ends, there’s no strong kicker. Though it is important that they are all connected to the Koch brothers, I agree that I would like to see some intersectionality between the rest of them, and maybe a reason as to why we were receiving this information, other than simply briefly explaining who was on the team. I do think, though, that it gives us a good, short picture of who is leading the EPA team, without offering too much of a bias.

  8. I think that the authors’ intent was to leave the reader with their own ideas of how disastrous this new team may prove to the environment, but I was disappointed, as I always am, when they neglected to specify that climate change denial (or “doubt”) is not a valid standpoint. As we’ve mentioned in class, that’s no longer a radical position to take.

    The severity of the implications Trump’s new conservative think tank don’t come across very well at all- maybe that was their intention. However, it’s important to constantly inform the reader where these people are getting their money, and that fact, at least, is abundantly clear. Perhaps there could have been some stats about how climate change will affect the earth if action is not taken, a quote from an opposing scientist or lawmaker. It’s entirely possible that there was one, but it was seen as not integral to the piece, and edited out.

  9. While the article aims to say that Trump’s EPA transition team members are mostly associated with the oil industry, as well with organizations that do not focus much on climate change reduction, the article does not keep the readers much engaged with the oil industry groups theme. Perhaps, the headline misled the readers because it appears that the article simply lists names of Trump’s EPA transition team with brief descriptions of each member. Additionally, what I wish the article would have done is to elaborate on Charles and David Koch’s past actions that demonstrate their stances on climate change and link those actions in relation to EPA transition team members. Furthermore, I would like to see more statistics such as investments or patterns of decisions made by these new team members to demonstrate that impact they had have in the past regarding to environmental policies Overall, I agree with Aaron in that the article manages to inform the readers about the EPA transition team, while not clearly directing readers to form some hypothesis on what types of policies will the new EPA team implement.

  10. Great discussion here! Many good points made and questions raised. As it happens, the Jan 31st edition of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Journal is focused squarely on energy coverage. So if you’re interested in exploring how some of themes in your conversation are reflected by professional journalists, here’s the link.

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