CNN's Jake Tapper repeatedly presses Pence on whether he thinks climate change is a threat

CNN host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperMississippi governor: Biden goal of 70 percent of US vaccinated by July 4 is 'arbitrary' Energy secretary: Adversaries have capability of shutting down US power grid King: 'There has to be trust' between government, companies following cyberattacks MORE on Sunday repeatedly pressed Vice President Pence on whether the "manmade climate emergency" is a threat to the United States, noting that people inside the Trump administration have said that global warming would cause "economic distress and social discontent."

The exchange occurred in a wide-ranging interview on "State of The Union." At one point, Tapper noted that Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Experts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump MORE has acknowledged the threat that climate change could pose in the future. 


"The EPA this week, however, rolled back part of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, letting states set their own limit for coal power plants emissions," Tapper said, before asking, "do you think human-induced climate emergency is a threat to the United States?"

Pence responded by saying that the Trump administration would "always follow the science" on the issue, prompting Tapper to chime in that the "science says it is."

The vice president proceeded to argue that the Obama-era Clean Power Plan was about "hamstringing energy" and "raising the cost of utility rates for working families," saying the Trump administration was against that. 

He later pointed out that the U.S. was "seeing a significant reduction in carbon emissions" thanks to clean coal technology and natural gas. 

"But is what people are calling a climate emergency, is it a threat?" Tapper asked. " Do you think it is a threat, manmade climate emergency is a threat?"

"I think the answer to is going to be based upon the science," Pence responded, leading Tapper to state that the science has already said climate change is a threat. 

Pence raised doubts about the statement before reiterating his criticism of Obama and other Democrats' plans to combat climate change. 

"So you don't think it is a threat, is all I'm saying?" Tapper replied. "You don't think it is a threat?"

"I think we're making great progress reducing carbon emissions, America has the cleanest air and water in the world," Pence said, echoing remarks Trump said at a rally earlier this month. 

Tapper shot back, saying Pence's statement was inaccurate before noting that the Trump administration has rolled back many environmental regulations imposed by the Obama administration. 

The Trump administration has faced persistent scrutiny regarding its efforts to address environmental concerns over the past two years. A group of former Republican Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chiefs said earlier this month said that the agency's approach to climate change under Trump was "catastrophic."

The EPA last week rolled back an Obama-era power plant pollution rule, giving states the ability to set their own carbon emission standards for coal-fired power plants. 

The move is likely to lead to a legal battle between the administration and environmental groups.