EPA head asked to back up claim that climate change is '50 to 75 years out'

EPA head asked to back up claim that climate change is '50 to 75 years out'
© Stefani Reynolds

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy: Critics worry Trump ignoring plight of honeybees | EPA employee protests union contract while receiving award from Wheeler | Green groups team up to host presidential climate summit EPA employee protests union contract while receiving award from Admin. Wheeler Overnight Energy: Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' | Republicans form conservation caucus | Pressure mounts against EPA's new FOIA rule MORE is being asked to back up recent claims that climate change consequences are still “50 to 75 years out.”

In a freedom of information request filed by the Sierra Club late Monday, the conservation group requested the EPA turn over any documents that support Wheeler’s assertion.

Wheeler’s comments came in an interview with CBS, when he told the network's Major Garrett that he would be focused on pressing issues like access to clean water since “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.”

Climate scientists armed with government research, however, are finding that climate change is having a much more immediate impact. The Sierra Club argues the dangers from climate change are fast-approaching and that Wheeler's remark to Garrett has no basis.

“We are confident that EPA’s response to this request will reveal that Wheeler’s assertion was unsupported by science and is inconsistent with the research and conclusions of the U.S. government’s career scientists,” Matthew Miller, a Sierra Club attorney, said in a release.

The group points to a number of ways the planet is currently impacted by global warming, ranging from wildfires to ailing coral reefs to record-breaking weather events.

EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said government experts often measure climate change over decades, rather than year-by-year, adding: "Administrator Wheeler has continued to emphasize the Trump EPA’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Similar information requests proved successful during former Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Press: Acosta, latest to walk the plank Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules when appointing industry leaders to science boards MORE’s tenure.

Pruitt, in a television appearance in March of 2017, disagreed that humans were a "primary contributor to the global warming that we see."

He did not back his reasoning with science, according to internal documents provided following a lawsuit won by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) in June of last year.

Instead, the agency provided 12 pages of supporting internal EPA emails to PEER that showed how Pruitt prepared for questions on the Waters of the United States rule, the withdrawal of the Obama-era methane rule and EPA's proposed changes to vehicle emissions standards.

Updated at 2:03 p.m.