Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is "part of the swamp" who will prevent President Trump from fulfilling his promise of withdrawing from the Paris climate change accord, said Myron Ebell, the former head of Trump's Environmental Protection Agency transition team.
"Rex Tillerson may be from Texas and he may have been CEO of Exxon, but he's part of the swamp," Ebell said Friday in addressing the Heartland Institute's climate skeptics conference in Washington.
He said Tillerson has become enamored by the idea of jetting off to far-off venues to meet with his fellow heads of state and likes the idea of participating in the United Nations' climate meetings on implementing the Paris deal.
"Secretary Rex Tillerson thinks it's really nice to be able to go to international meetings and pal around with his fellow foreign ministers," Ebell said. "And it's nice for all those State Department people to fly around the world several times a year to these subsidiary meetings of the U.N. climate convention."
He referred to reports that many of Trump's closest advisers are not fully behind leaving the Paris agreement and oppose doing so. Trump's former energy policy adviser, Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., sent a letter to the president Thursday saying that he should rein in the nation's Paris pledge, but should not pull out of the agreement.
"We do have a problem, swamp creatures are still there" in Washington and "the climate industrial complex has a huge amount of money at stake, and therefore they are prepared to spend a huge amount of money to keep their mandates and subsidies and hand outs," Ebell said.
"So, this is not going to be easy," he said. "You could say President Trump can just sign these things, but there is a lot of opposition. And a lot of it is very powerful opposition."
Ebell is back at the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, where he heads the group's environment policy institute, which has adamantly opposed EPA climate rules and former President Barack Obama's push to join the Paris Agreement in 2015.
As Trump's EPA transition head, Ebell had recommended the drastic cuts to the agency that the White House announced last week in issuing Trump's first budget proposal.
He was noticeably outraged in making the statement about Tillerson, which drew cheers from the audience.
"And I'm sorry to say that the president's daughter and son-in-law also support staying in Paris," Ebell said.
"I don't know that they want to be identified as swamp creatures, and I'm not going to do so. But I do think at some point it needs to be pointed out to President Trump and his administration that the people that elected Donald J. Trump are not wealthy Manhattanites, including his children," he said to applause.