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Energy secretary questions consensus that humans cause climate change

Energy secretary questions consensus that humans cause climate change
© Greg Nash

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette questioned whether humans are causing climate change while traveling in Pennsylvania despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that the phenomenon is human-caused. 

“We have a lot to learn about what causes changes in the climate, and we’re not there yet,” he said Monday after he was asked how the Trump administration would tackle climate change, according to local news reports

He also said “no one knows that” after he was asked whether he believed that carbon emissions from human activities were causing warmer temperatures. 

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Told that scientists believe humans are responsible for climate change, Brouillette said: “Scientists say a lot of things. I have scientists inside of the Department of Energy that say a lot of things. Look, the bottom line is we live here, so we must have some impact. The question is, what is the exact impact that we’re having? And that’s the question that has not been resolved.”

Asked by The Hill to clarify Brouillette’s stance on climate change, a spokesperson pointed to Tuesday remarks in which the nation’s top energy official discussed applying technology to challenges like climate change. 

“What can we do to learn more about the climate? What can we do to learn more about energy’s relation to the climate? We still feel very strongly there’s much research to be done and we don’t have all the answers yet and if we can use the work that’s being done in our national laboratories ... to help us find better solutions and better answers in that regard, then we want to do that,” he said. 

Brouillette has previously said he believes that the climate is changing and acknowledged that humans play a role, telling lawmakers in 2017, “I believe the climate is changing. We’re all living here, so we must have some impact.”

The Trump administration’s perception of climate change is a topic that has come under intense scrutiny, particularly given the president previously calling climate change a “hoax,” though he said this year that he didn’t believe it’s made up. 

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However, this month President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE also claimed that “it’ll start getting cooler” when discussing climate with Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. 

“I wish science agreed with you,” Crowfoot said, to which Trump responded, “I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Brouillette’s predecessor, Rick PerryRick PerryIs Social Security safe from the courts? Trump, Biden set for high-stakes showdown President Trump faces Herculean task in first debate MORE, has been dismissive of climate change, saying years ago that it was “a scientific theory that has not yet been proven" and writing in his book that it’s “all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.”

However, Perry more recently acknowledged that people are playing a role in the changing climate, saying last year, “The climate is changing. Are we part of the reason? Yeah, it is. I’ll let people debate on who’s the bigger problem here.”