It’s been a few days now since Scott Pruitt, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said he didn’t believe carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming, but the chill hasn’t fully subsided yet.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer can spin Mr. Pruitt’s response to a question from Joe Kernen of CNBC all he wants, Mr. Pruitt’s answer included — it featured — the declaratory statement, “… No I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet. We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”
Officials in the Trump administration might not “know that yet,” but it’s clear to the climate scientists that Mr. Pruitt and President Trump ignore that carbon dioxide is a major factor in the climate change that’s been under way for some time and that is a growing threat to life as human beings know it.
It also is clear to the EPA itself, whose website conspicuously directly contradicts Mr. Pruitt. And it’s clear to his immediate predecessor, Gina McCarthy. Her response to his version of climate change denial? “I cannot imagine what additional information the administrator might want from scientists for him to understand that.”
She added, “The world of science is about empirical evidence, not beliefs. When it comes to climate change, the evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is high.”
Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat who is co-chair of the Senate Climate Acton Task Force, said, “Anyone who denies over a century’s worth of established science and basic facts is unqualified to be the administrator of the EPA.”
Ah, but Mr. Pruitt might be a different kind of EPA administrator. He’s looking and sounding increasingly like one who will undermine the nation’s air and water quality if doing so serves the interests of fossil fuel industries. Already he’s backpedaling on regulations and policies, including mileage standards for automobiles.
His qualifications to serve as EPA administrator for President Trump, who has dismissed climate change as a “hoax,” include having sued the EPA more than a dozen times when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general. Indeed, some of his correspondence with the EPA at the time was written by interests in the oil and gas industries.
Lamentably, the nation’s Environmental Protection Agency chief is not likely to complain too loudly when the White House pares the EPA budget because protecting the environment simply isn’t a priority for him.