Agriculture secretary on climate change: 'I think it's weather patterns'

Agriculture secretary on climate change: 'I think it's weather patterns'
© Greg Nash

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueOvernight Health Care: Trump reportedly lashed out at health chief over polling | Justices to hear ObamaCare birth control case | Trump rolls back Michelle Obama school lunch rules Trump to roll back Michelle Obama's school lunch rules on vegetables, fruits Cities, states sue over planned Trump cuts to food stamps MORE downplayed concerns about climate change during an interview with CNN released Tuesday, referring to its effects as “weather patterns.”

“You know, I think it's weather patterns, frankly. And you know, and they change, as I said. It rained yesterday, it's a nice pretty day today. So the climate does change in short increments and in long increments," Perdue said.

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The interview followed a Politico report that Perdue's department has refused to publicize government-funded research indicating increasing threats due to climate change.

"I read that story and I can find no evidence at all from anything I said or anything having to do with climate change," Perdue told CNN, adding that he “absolutely” wants such research made public and that he meets with climate scientists “on an ongoing basis.”

Perdue also said he has not discussed climate change with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE, who has repeatedly cast doubt on the issue despite the scientific consensus. Trump once called it a “hoax created by the Chinese” and told Piers Morgan, “I believe there is a change in weather and I think it changes both ways.”

"I think the president feels that I do, he's a golfer, so sometimes he knows he gets rained out and sometimes it doesn't, but the long-term consequences, I don't know," Perdue told CNN.

Vice President Pence repeatedly demurred during an appearance last Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" on whether he considers climate change a threat. Pence responded in part by saying the U.S. “has the cleanest air and water in the world," which host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperSteyer says 'grassroots organizing' in Nevada, South Carolina got him on debate stage Pentagon chief says he 'didn't see' intelligence suggesting Iran planned to attack four US embassies Ex-White House press, military officials call on Grisham to restart regular briefings MORE noted was inaccurate.