Pendulum of U.S. climate-change policy now swings too far right, former Southern Nevada water czar says

By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers

Southern Nevada’s former water czar said Thursday on Nevada Newsmakers that President’s Trump policy on climate change is “schizophrenic,” emphasizing that economics should be at the heart of the climate-change debate in the United States.

“I think it is quite schizophrenic,” Pat Mulroy, former head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said about Trump’s take on the matter, which includes pulling the United States out of the Paris agreement.

Mulroy, now a senior fellow at Brookings Mountain West, said she was saddened to see the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency swing so far right, although some rollback of Obama’s EPA regulations was necessary.


Mulroy is the author “The Water Problem,” a book about climate change across the nation. While leading the SNWA, Mulroy was also the lead negotiator on the Colorado River for the State of Nevada.

“Probably for me, one of the saddest things to watch in Washington today is the whiplash that keeps happening,” Mulroy said. “When you have a pendulum that swings to the far left, the velocity that it gains because of that far-left swing as it swings back to the right, is equally veracious. And this is a reaction. Somehow, we need this pendulum to slow down and start coming back to the middle.”

Since taking office, Trump’s flurry of executive orders have rolled back numerous EPA regulations, although the Trump administration is reportedly still in the beginning phases of remaking of the EPA.

Veteran Nevadan Journalist Ray Hagar is known for fair and tough reporting and invigorating commentary.

“So yes, there needs to be some reform,” Mulroy said. “I think the pendulum is swinging too far to the other side. I could have predicted that was going to happen. From the time we were little, we’ve been told that every action triggers an equal and like reaction. And that is what we are experiencing right now.”

The Obama administration, however, was guilty of environmental overreach, Mulroy said.

“You have to sit back and say, how much of this is just an unbridled bureaucracy just looking to perpetuate itself and what portion of this is actually needed?” Mulroy said. “It fell right into the category of the sad, one-size-fits-all category, which is, unfortunately, the way most regulations come out of Washington D.C. ‘If it works in Maine, it must work in Arizona,’ and nothing could be further for the truth.”

Mulroy said elected officials who are climate-change deniers see the issue as harmful to their constituencies.

“I have come to the conclusion that those who claim to be climate deniers really aren’t,” she said. “They are people who are saying, “I’m not sure that in my political universe right now that I’m going to care about this. I have constituencies at home that are feeling the negative consequences of the way we engage in our energy policy and in other aspects of modern, urban life. And I an not willing to put my constituencies through this level of pain.'”

Climate change policy should also include solutions for possible job losses, she said.

“We’ve got to get serious about this,” Mulroy said. “But we need to look very carefully about how we embark on this journey. As we put people out of jobs, what are we really doing to give them a sense of a future? It is not about achieving the end goal, as much as it is about developing a journey that is manageable for the population.”

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