Nearly two years after taking office, President Donald Trump now has a Senate-confirmed science adviser: Kelvin Droegemeier, a meteorologist from the University of Oklahoma who’s gotten good reviews from climate advocates as well as climate deniers.
Trump chose Droegemeier to head the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in late July, but it took until Wednesday for the Senate to confirm the appointment on a voice vote. That was the last full day of the 115th Congress, and if the confirmation had been put off a day longer, the process would have had to start over.
Droegemeier is a former vice chair of the National Science Board, the oversight body of the National Science Foundation, and has long been active on national research policy.
Back in August, Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann was quoted as saying Droegemeier was a “surprisingly sensible choice” for the Trump administration’s top science spot. Mann, a sharp critic of Trump’s views on climate change, told E&E News that Droegemeier held “absolutely mainstream views about the atmospheric sciences and climate.”
After Wednesday’s confirmation, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted congratulations to “my good friend and fellow Oklahoman.”
Another Oklahoman, Republican U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, praised Droegemeier as well. “The president requires the most well-qualified advisers and Dr. Droegemeier provides the experience and ability necessary to get the job done right,” Inhofe said in a statement quoted by NewsOK.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, issued a statement calling Droegemeier a “highly respected scientist and academic” who will “help further our nation’s economic competitiveness and national security.”
For what it’s worth, Inhofe has called concerns about the effects of climate change “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Both Inhofe and Thune get zero-percent ratings on the League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard.
The Office of Science and Technology Policy’s staff has seen dramatic reductions during the Trump administration, and it’s currently hard-hit by the partial government shutdown.