EPA clears Pruitt of scientific integrity charges

EPA clears Pruitt of scientific integrity charges
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The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of the Science Adviser has cleared administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittZinke under federal investigation for speech to NHL team: report Overnight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick MORE of charges from a green group that he violated the department’s Scientific Integrity Policy.

The office dismissed complaints against Pruitt from the Sierra Club over his March statement that carbon dioxide is not a “primary contributor to global warming,” a position out of step with the conclusions of most climate scientists.

The Sierra Club asked the Office of the Inspector General to determine in the statement violated the integrity policy because, they contended, policymakers should not “knowingly misrepresent, exaggerate, or downplay” scientific uncertainty or “suppress or alter scientific findings.”

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But the agency’s Office of Science Adviser instead ruled that "The freedom to express one's opinion about science is fundamental to EPA's Scientific Integrity Policy even [and especially] when that point of view might be controversial,” the Washington Examiner reports.

The EPA did not distribute the office’s conclusions and instead circulated reports about it.

The Sierra Club said Wednesday that it had received a letter from the office, but disputed its conclusions. 

Pruitt's statements on CNBC were not merely a scientific ‘opinion,’ as EPA's letter suggests,” Sierra Club senior attorney Elena Saxonhouse said in a statement.

“With his many close ties to the fossil fuel industry, it is clear they were a politically motivated attempt to obfuscate basic facts that EPA scientists have studied and verified for years. Unfortunately, this letter effectively lets Pruitt off the hook for deceiving the American public regularly in high profile contexts."

—Updated at 12:46 p.m. Timothy Cama contributed.