EPA watchdog reviewing whether Pruitt's carbon remarks violate policies

EPA watchdog reviewing whether Pruitt's carbon remarks violate policies
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A Environmental Protection Agency watchdog is reviewing whether Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Overnight Energy: Democrats push EPA to collect 4K in 'excessive' Pruitt travel expenses | Greens angered over new rules for rocket fuel chemical | Inslee to join youth climate strikers in Las Vegas Democrats push EPA to collect 4K from Pruitt for 'excessive airfare expenses' MORE violated agency policy when he questioned last month whether carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.

The agency's Office of Inspector General (OIG) told the Sierra Club that it had referred a complaint by group over Pruitt's statement to the Scientific Integrity Officer (SIO) for review, Reuters reported Friday.

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"If after the SIO review, she concludes there is some aspect of the letter itself, or her findings or conclusions that she believes are appropriate for further consideration by the OIG, she will so notify the OIG," an email to the Sierra Club said.

During a March 9 interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box," Pruitt said he disagreed with the notion that carbon emissions are a major contributor to climate change.

"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," Pruitt said.

In fact, climate scientists agree overwhelmingly that CO2 emissions have played a significant role in the phenomenon.

The EPA's Scientific Integrity Policy requires agency officials to respect the findings of the broader scientific community, saying "it is the responsibility of every EPA employee to conduct, utilize, and communicate science with honesty, integrity, and transparency, both within and outside the Agency."

In an email to Reuters, EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman argued that Pruitt's comments were in line with the agency's Scientific Integrity Policy.

"Administrator Pruitt makes no apologies for having a candid dialogue about climate science and commonsense regulations that will protect our environment, without creating unnecessary regulatory burdens that kill jobs," she said.

"Differing views and opinions on scientific and technical matters is a legitimate and necessary part of EPA’s decision-making process, which is consistent with EPA’s scientific integrity policy that was in place even during the Obama administration."

Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general, is a fierce opponent of federal environmental regulations, and sued the EPA more than a dozen times during his tenure as Oklahoma's top law enforcement official.

President Trump's decision to nominate Pruitt as EPA administrator was met with staunch opposition by many Democrats and environmental advocates, who expressed concern that he could work to undermine the agency he was tapped to lead.