Energy & Environment

Pruitt: Human role in climate change ‘subject to continuing debate’

Greg Nash

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Wednesday that climate change is real, but he is skeptical of the degree to which humans contribute.

The position outlined by Scott Pruitt, the current Republican attorney general of Oklahoma, goes farther than Trump’s previously stated position that climate change is a “hoax.”

But it also falls short of the scientific consensus that human activity, through greenhouse gases mainly produced by burning fossil fuels, is the main driver of recent global warming.


“Science tells us that the climate is changing, and that human activity, in some manner, impacts that change,” Pruitt told the Environment and Public Works Committee in the opening statement of his confirmation hearing Wednesday.

“The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue, and well it should be,” Pruitt said.

The nominee further clarified his position in response to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), saying, “I do not believe climate change is a hoax.”

Pruitt’s position on climate science has been at the top of debate over his nomination. He has previously said that the human role in global warming is up for debate, although environmental groups have labeled him a “denier” for his refusal to endorse the scientific consensus.

Pruitt’s position closely follows the one outlined Tuesday by Ryan Zinke, Trump’s nominee to lead the Interior Department.

Zinke told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that climate change is “not a hoax,” but there is debate as to “what that influence is [and] what we can do about it.”

As EPA administrator, Pruitt would be in charge of the chief agency that President Obama has used to crack down on greenhouse gases and fight climate change.

Trump has pledged to repeal all of Obama’s climate agenda, including the Clean Power Plan, which sets limits on the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions.

As Oklahoma’s top attorney, Pruitt has taken a leading role in suing Obama to overturn the Clean Power Plan and numerous other EPA regulations, like limits on mercury pollution from power plants and a rule asserting federal jurisdiction, for pollution control purposes, over small waterways like streams and wetlands.

Updated: 11:45 a.m.

Tags Climate change Donald Trump Ed Markey Environmental Protection Agency

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