Energy & Environment

Sierra Club wants EPA head investigated over climate comments

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The Sierra Club is calling for an investigation into whether the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated his agency’s policies with his comments on climate change.

The group told the EPA’s Office of Inspector General Wednesday that Scott Pruitt violated the Scientific Integrity Policy in numerous ways when he said that carbon dioxide is not a “primary contributor” to climate change.

“Pruitt clearly violated the Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy by publicly denying that carbon pollution is driving the climate crisis” Sierra Club attorney Elena Saxonhouse said in a statement.

{mosads}“If the EPA’s Scientific Integrity Policy is to have any meaning then this type of clear violation must be strictly enforced and resolved,” she said.

In a CNBC interview last week, Pruitt said he “would not agree that [carbon dioxide is] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” something that does not align with the EPA’s own previous findings, nor the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the matter.

The EPA defended Pruitt’s comments, accusing the Sierra Club of trying to shut down debate on the topic.

“Administrator Pruitt’s comments are perfectly in keeping with the scientific integrity policy,” spokesman John Konkus said in a statement.

“There is an ongoing scientific debate on climate change, its causes and its effects. That debate should be encouraged as the administrator has done, not discouraged as Sierra Club is attempting to do.”

The remarks fueled significant backlash among Democrats and greens.

The Sierra Club said Pruitt violated the EPA’s policy that employees must “conduct, utilize, and communicate science with honesty, integrity, and transparency.”

He also broke rules saying that policymakers should not “knowingly misrepresent, exaggerate, or downplay” scientific uncertainty, and that officials should “not suppress or alter scientific findings,” the group said.

The Sierra Club asked that the inspector general investigate the comments and whether they violated standards. It asked the office to “remedy this violation,” but did not specify an action it seeks.

Tags Carbon dioxide Climate change Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt

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