Trump EPA chief says agency's authority to address climate change is 'limited'

Trump EPA chief says agency's authority to address climate change is 'limited'
© Stefani Reynolds

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerEPA to resume contract negotiations with employee union Overnight Energy: Critics call EPA air guidance 'an industry dream' | New Energy secretary says Trump wants to boost coal | EPA looks to speed approval of disputed industry pollution permits Latest EPA guidance weakens air protections in favor of industry, critics say MORE said his agency is “limited” in regard to its “statutory authorities to address the issue” of climate change.

Wheeler added that the agency was working within the limits set by Congress, according to an interview with McClatchy published Tuesday.

“I believe also that we’re very limited at the agency in terms of our statutory authorities to address the issue,” he said. “So what we’re trying to do is address the issue with the authorities that Congress has given us.”

Wheeler also said he believes climate change is occurring but could not speak for President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE or the administration regarding their views on the topic.

However, he also noted that the climate has been changing “forever” and that climate science has been exploited politically, according to McClatchy.

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“I’m not going to speak for the administration on that,” Wheeler told the news outlet. “Just from my own perspective, as the administrator of the EPA, I believe that climate change is happening and I believe that man has an impact on climate.”

As for Trump’s brief and unexpected appearance at a United Nations climate event Monday, Wheeler said it shows the administration takes "climate seriously."

The meeting on Monday at the U.N. General Assembly to address climate change was for world leaders to discuss plans to meet emissions reduction goals.

Wheeler also knocked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has consistently said that an average global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels would have an irreversible impact on the planet.

“I don’t know what the tipping point is,” Wheeler told McClatchy about the 1.5 degrees Celsius figure. “You know, the IPCC process is highly politicized. So I talked to scientists at the agency, and I’ve tried to talk to scientists outside of the agency, but the U.N.’s IPCC process has been highly politicized for years.”

Wheeler also noted that with the pending threat posed by climate change, it was appropriate for the Department of Defense to prepare plans to combat rising oceans threatening military bases as well as addressing increased instability caused by droughts and mass migration.