Progressive Dem says Trump officials ‘dumbed down’ concept of science

The top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee argued Thursday that the Trump administration has “dumbed down” the concept of science while praising a judge's decision to block the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“On the area of science, on the area of climate change, on the area of fact resources much of what we have to do whether it’s a species question, a land use question, a waters question, a fisheries question, sovereignty issues around tribes have to do with science and fact,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising."

“And the reality is – not only in [the] Interior Department, but in the administration as a whole – [has] dumbed down the concept of science, suppressed it,” he added.

Last week, a federal judge in Montana blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. In his decision, the judge ruled no work can go forward until the government more fully reviews the environmental impact.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE slammed the judge’s decision, calling it a “disgrace” and nothing but a “political decision.” The president also suggested that his administration would appeal the judge’s ruling to the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, citing “everyone goes to the 9th Circuit, everything.”

But Grijalva praised the judge’s ruling, saying the decision reaffirmed that “science has a role in this decision-making, which you can’t get around.”

The progressive lawmaker also emphasized that the ruling reaffirmed concerns that have been raised by opponents of the pipeline all along.

Environmentalists and indigenous tribes argue that the pipeline doesn't take into account the impact it would have on water and sacred lands.

The 1,179-mile pipeline would run from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to Steele, City Neb., carrying around 830,000 barrels of oil each day.

“The cultural resources review – that’s got to occur, this is something the tribes all along, particularly the Sioux … have been saying: ‘We have not done a resources review,' now the judge says that has to be done,” Grijalva said.

The pipeline, which was proposed by the Canadian-based TransCanada Corp., has been a lightening rod in national energy policy for a decade.

Even though Trump says the latest decision threatens an estimated 48,000 potential jobs, Grijalva argued it's really about the need for the Department of Interior to reestablish its mission ensuring that public lands and resources remain multi-use. 

"The concept for our interior and for our public assets has always been multi-use — and that includes conservation, that includes the preservation, that includes all of the laws on the books and to only now expedite it and create a bubble around the fossil fuel industry as if they have sole source to these resources," he said. 

— Tess Bonn