This story was originally published by the New Republic and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

It was supposed to be “the climate skeptic victory tour,” in the words of one prominent attendee. Last week, hundreds of enthusiastic climate change deniers convened in the Grand Hyatt Washington hotel in Washington, D.C., for the Heartland Institute’s 12th annual conference. Now that one of their own — President Donald Trump — had taken the White House, the conference promised to be a festival of gloating. Marc Morano, the Matt Drudge of climate denialism, told me the political situation has “everyone grinning ear to ear.”

But something was amiss. Though sentiments like Morano’s were common, I also met apprehensive attendees who worry that “swamp creatures” at the Environmental Protection Agency are undermining attempts to hobble the agency. These alleged swamp creatures aren’t just the career staffers who have openly protested Scott Pruitt, the agency’s new administrator. They’re the people whom Pruitt has hired — and even Pruitt himself.