EPA chief pushing governmentwide effort to question climate change science

EPA chief pushing governmentwide effort to question climate change science
By Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin
Jul 1 2017
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/07/01/epa-chief-pushing-governmentwide-effort-to-question-climate-change-science/

The Trump administration is debating whether to launch a governmentwide effort to question the science of climate change, an effort that critics say is an attempt to undermine the long-established consensus human activity is fueling the Earth’s rising temperatures.

The move, driven by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, has sparked a debate among top Trump administration officials over whether to pursue such a strategy.

A senior White House official, who asked for anonymity because no final decision has been made, said that while Pruitt has expressed interest in the idea, “there are no formal plans within the administration to do anything about it at this time.”

Pruitt first publicly raised the idea of setting up a “red team-blue team” effort to conduct exercises to test the idea that human activity is the main driver of recent climate change in an interview with Breitbart in early June.

“What the American people deserve, I think, is a true, legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective, transparent discussion about CO2,” Pruitt said in an interview with Breitbart’s Joel Pollack.

But officials are discussing whether the initiative would stretch across numerous federal agencies that rely on such science, according to multiple Trump administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made.

Pruitt refuses to answer whether Trump believes climate change is influenced by humans

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt evaded a direct question from a reporter, asking if President Trump believes humans contribute to climate change, on June 2 at the White House (Reuters)

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who once described the science behind human-caused climate change as a “contrived phony mess,” also is involved in the effort, two officials said.

At a White House briefing this week, Perry said, “The people who say the science is settled, it’s done — if you don’t believe that you’re a skeptic, a Luddite. I don’t buy that. I don’t think there is — I mean, this is America. Have a conversation. Let’s come out of the shadows of hiding behind your political statements and let’s talk about it. What’s wrong with that? And I’m full well — I can be convinced, but let’s talk about it.”

The idea, according to one senior administration official, is “to get other federal agencies involved in this exercise on the state of climate science” to examine “what we know, where there are holes, and what we actually don’t know.”

Other agencies could include the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and NASA, according to the official, all of which conduct climate research in some capacity.

EPA officials on Friday declined to comment, and DOE could not immediately be reached for comment.

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