Energy & Environment

Former EPA director: Trump administration plan sets ‘deeply troubling precedent’

Christine Whitman, the former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief under President George W. Bush, says current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's plan for the agency is a "shameful" attempt to bury evidence on climate change.

"The evidence is abundant of the dangerous political turn of an agency that is supposed to be guided by science," Whitman wrote Friday in The New York Times. "[The red team] will serve only to confuse the public and sets a deeply troubling precedent for policy-making at the EPA"

The EPA announced the creation of "red teams" in June, with one senior official telling reporters that it would create a "back-and-forth-critique" of climate science.

"Climate science like other fields of science is constantly changing," EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in June. "A new, fresh, and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing."

Whitman blasted Pruitt for this approach, which she calls anti-science, and accused Pruitt of attempting to silence evidence that points to climate change being a man-made issue.

"The red team begins with his politically preferred conclusion that climate change isn't a problem, and it will seek evidence to justify that position. That's the opposite of how science works," Whitman writes.

"That Mr. Pruitt seeks to use the power of the EPA to elevate those who have already lost the argument is shameful, and the only outcome will be that the public will know less about the science of climate change than before," she adds.

Whitman says Pruitt's approach at the EPA is meant to allow Energy Secretary Rick Perry and President Trump to avoid acting on climate change.

"Sending scientists on a wild-goose chase so that Mr. Pruitt, Rick Perry, the energy secretary, who has endorsed this approach, and President Trump can avoid acknowledging and acting on the reality of climate change is simply unjustifiable," Whitman writes.

"If this project goes forward, it should be treated for what it is: a shameful attempt to confuse the public into accepting the false premise that there is no need to regulate fossil fuels."

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