California looks to hire federal government’s science expats turned off by Trump’s climate rhetoric

Over 400 inquiries after CPUC president urges career environmental experts to ‘come west’

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This is an extended version of a story that ran in the April 13, 2017, issue.

More than 400 environmental scientists and experts have sought work in California following the Trump administration’s clampdown on climate science, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

CPUC President Michael Picker handed out job fliers in front of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy offices in Washington last month. Since then, hundreds of inquiries have come in, said Picker’s chief of staff, Nick Chaset.

“We’re looking for talent and, in California, whatever the decisions of the federal government and current administration, we continue to be committed to good science, analysis and issues that relate to climate change,” Chaset said. “We want the best talent that’s out there, so come to California if you’re interested.”

A special job portal was set up on the CPUC website for work at the utilities commission, Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission, as well as on Picker’s personal CPUC page. Most applications are in the early stages of being considered. Chaset said the utilities commission set up a series of webinars to help federal employees navigate the state hiring system, notorious for its difficulty.

State climate experts could impact the country, if not the planet. Jobs at the state include: pollution specialists, analysts, technicians, engineers and resources specialists.

“Some of these jobs will interface with other states and the federal government,” Chaset said. “The CPUC is for California, but the state has entered into a number of agreements for other states, domestically and internationally, to coordinate on climate change.”

The move to enlist the country’s top federal scientists is reminiscent of when Russian engineers, who designed the Soviet Union’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles, went to work on North Korea’s nuclear program following the end of the Cold War.

In any case, Chaset said the CPUC is working to turn the inquiries into full applications. “On climate action, there’s a dark cloud hanging over Washington right now,” Picker said in a statement. “If climate scientists and experts want the opportunity to continue doing important work for the good of our planet, my message is simple: Come West, California is hiring.”