Energy & Environment

EPA transition official dismisses climate science strategy as ‘silliness’

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A former transition official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is dismissing the agency’s plan to debate climate change science as “silliness.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is planning to deploy a “red team, blue team” debate over the scientific consensus around climate change. But David Schnare, a 34-year EPA veteran and former transition official for the Trump administration, dismissed that approach in an op-ed for InsideEPA.

“The Red team-blue team concept simply does not apply within the scientific community,” he wrote.


“That … is not how science works. Science is supposed to be done by individuals ‘disinterested’ in the outcome of their observations. It is not supposed to be a political blood sport.”

The former transition official called Pruitt’s proposal to televise debates on climate change “an extension of failure to understand how science works” because a televised structure is too limiting.

Schnare said scientific discussions into climate change should be conducted instead by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is currently writing a “National Climate Assessment” report.

The EPA said Thursday that it believes the claims in the op-ed are “false.”

“He was never being considered for a top spot,” spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in a statement.

“His claims are wildly untrue and his references to things like ‘professional ethics’ and ‘sensitive issues’ and ‘actions taken outside the law’ without any specificity, tends to point to a lack of veracity in his claims.”

Schnare retired from the EPA in 2011 and returned to the agency as a transition official once Trump was elected. He has publicly questioned climate science and was a frequent critic of the agency under former President Barack Obama.

The former official wrote in his op-ed that he was in line for an appointment to be the agency’s Assistant Deputy Administrator position before he resigned from the transition team in March.

At the time, Schnare didn’t expand on why he left the agency. But he wrote in his op-ed this week that the transition team was facing “antagonism” by employees and “open hostility” from some Pruitt appointees.

Pruitt himself, Schnare wrote, rarely met with career staff to address “time- and policy-sensitive” issues facing the agency.

“In simple terms, Mr. Pruitt and I simply never meshed,” Schnare wrote. “In my case, Mr. Pruitt and I had basic irreconcilable differences in management approach and professional ethics.”

—Updated Thursday at 1:10 p.m.

Tags Barack Obama Climate change Environmental Protection Agency
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