Energy & Environment

Internal EPA memo tells staffers how to downplay climate change

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent staffers climate change talking points Tuesday, according to an email first obtained by HuffPost.

The list of eight “approved talking points” sent by the EPA’s Office of Public Affairs encourages staffers to highlight a lack of evidence that ties humans to climate change.

“Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner. 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,” reads one of the points.

Another point mentions that “gaps” remain in science, bringing into question whether climate change is a direct effect of fossil fuel emissions.


“While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it,” reads the email forwarded from Joel Scheraga, a career employee at EPA’s Office of Policy and advisor for climate adaptation, to his colleagues.

The talking points were determined by Public Affairs Director Nancy Grantham for consistent messaging on the topic.

Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA has questioned the exact impact humans have made on climate change.

While Pruitt has maintained that he believes in climate change, he has been reluctant to tie effects to humans as the agency works to roll back a number of environmental regulations that green groups argue will speed up global warming.

After he was confirmed, Pruitt worked quickly to approve a slew of EPA website changes that removed references to climate change and climate programs. 

However, a number of federal studies, including from the EPA, have found evidence that humans are contributing to a warming globe. In November, a federal report from 13 agencies found that humans are the No. 1 cause of climate change — causing sea level rise, hotter temperatures and agriculture issues.

The final talking point on the EPA memo suggests how employees should refer to Pruitt’s stance on the issue. 

“Administrator Pruitt encourages an open, transparent debate on climate science,” it reads.

A spokesperson for the EPA confirmed to The Hill that the talking points were “developed by the Office of Public Affairs,” adding that the agency continues to address climate change.

“The Agency’s work on climate adaptation continues under the leadership of Dr. Scheraga,” the spokesperson said.

Tags Climate change EPA Scott Pruitt talking points

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