Trump’s EPA pick: Human impact on climate change needs more debate

By Dan Merica and Rene Marsh, CNN

Washington (CNN)Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, broke with the President-elect Wednesday and said he doesn’t believe climate change is a “hoax.”

But in testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Pruitt didn’t indicate he would take swift action to address environmental issues that may contribute to climate change. Instead, the Oklahoma attorney general said there is still debate over how to respond.
“Science tells us the climate is changing and human activity in some matter impacts that change,” Pruitt said. “The ability to measure and pursue the degree and the extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”
That stance puts Pruitt in line with the climate change views of several other Trump Cabinet picks, including Rex Tillerson and Ryan Zinke, who have acknowledged the issue but haven’t committed to an aggressive response.
Trump once called climate change a “hoax” invented by the Chinese and, during his campaign for president, repeatedly questioned scientific conclusions that human activity has caused global warming. More recently, he has acknowledged “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change.
Pruitt, who has long viewed the EPA skeptically and has sued the agency repeatedly as Oklahoma attorney general, is a lightning rod of a pick. As the hearing got underway, protesters criticizing Pruitt for his ties to the oil industry outside the room were clearly audible. A handful of protesters were escorted out of the hearing.
Pruitt said the EPA serves a critical mission and detailed how the agency under his leadership would take a dramatically different approach than under President Barack Obama. He accused the agency under Obama of flouting congressional rules and ignoring the desires of states.
Pruitt said “rule of law matters” and that as EPA director he would “follow the law” and regulations set out by Congress, a suggestion that the current leadership has not done that.

Views on climate change

It is likely that Pruitt, despite views that are abhorrent to many Democrats, will be confirmed as the next head of the EPA. But Democrats want to make him pay for it and plan to push the Republican on some of his past comments about climate and his ties to energy companies.
Pruitt wrote last year that climate change scientists “continue to disagree” about whether climate change is real, despite the fact that 97% or more of climate scientists believe climate change is real and linked to human activity.
And lawyers with the Environmental Defense Fund tell CNN that Pruitt filed at least 12 lawsuits challenging environmental protections as attorney general. Pruitt, in particular, sued over the EPA’s clean power plan, which seeks to curb carbon emissions from power plants and attempts to curb methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.
Bernie Sanders, the liberal Vermont senator who railed against the fossil fuel industry during his 2016 presidential campaign, hammered Pruitt for questioning the impact humans have on climate change.
Pruitt said his personal views on climate change are “immaterial” to whether he should lead the EPA, arguing that his prospective job is about following Congress’ guidance, not his own personal beliefs.
“Really?” Sanders asked incredulously. “You are going to be the head of the agency to protect the environment and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emission is immaterial?”
Pruitt stood by the statement, telling Sanders that his job as administrator would be to “carry out statutes passed by this body.”

Probed for ties to energy companies

He sought to beat back concerns about his ties to the energy industry by arguing it is wrong to say someone who is pro-energy is inherently anti-environment.
“First, we must reject the false paradigm that if you are pro-energy, you are anti-environment and if you are pro-environment, you are anti-energy,” he said. “I utterly reject the narrative.”
But environmental activists call Pruitt dangerous and Democrats on the committee will look to put his views of science and climate change on trial.
Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the committee, has labeled the Oklahoma Republican “Polluting Pruitt” since his nomination was announced and argued that an EPA head that does not “recognize the damaging effects of climate change on our environment and economy” is not qualified for the job.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, hammered Pruitt for his ties to a number of oil companies through his campaigns for attorney general, his super PACs and the Republican Attorneys General Association.
Whitehouse called some of his ties “a complete black hole” of money, alleging that Pruitt could be conflicted when dealing with some energy companies due to his fundraising.
Pruitt denied soliciting money from Koch Industries and others for the Rule of Law Defense Fund and noted that, as attorney general, he also sued energy companies.
According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Pruitt has received more than $300,000 from interests close to the fossil fuel industry since 2002.
Many Senate Republicans, however, see Pruitt as the right person to lead what they view as a wasteful agency that over-regulates, especially because Oklahoma is the biggest oil and natural gas-producing state in the nation.

Pledging action

Pruitt said he believes mistakes were made in the handling of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, blaming the Obama administration’s EPA for not moving faster.
“As you know, the Clean Water Act and The Safe Drinking Water Act, if there is an emergency situation, the EPA can enter an emergency order to address those kind of concerns,” Pruitt said. “I think there should have been a more fast response, a more rapid response to Flint, Michigan.”
Pruitt’s main argument during the start of his hearing has been that the states should have more power within the EPA, but on this issue, he argued that the federal government agency should have had more power to respond.
Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, pressed Pruitt on his lawsuits against the EPA, charging the body with overreach in state matters.
Pruitt said on issues of air quality and water quality and inter-state issues, the EPA is particularly necessary.

4 thoughts on “Trump’s EPA pick: Human impact on climate change needs more debate

  1. What Trump-GOP means for wildlife, environment, public land, national forests, pristine places: it essentially means the conservation movement fight for survival of biodiversity, wilderness, pristine places, public land, national forests, maybe of the planet. We are already in the 6th greatest extinction, the Anthropogenic Extinction. Americans just chose capitalism, the “United States of Exxon”, coal, gas & oil, hunting, commercial use of public land, over the environment, wildlife, and the pristine. Greed chosen over conservation.

    “I’ve never been *here* before. I’ve never faced the possibility of an administration whose hostility, ignorance, and arrogance threaten all of our communities, every single beautiful place, policy advancement, and threatened creature we care about.” Sierra Club 12/28/2016

    Trump and sons will vitalize recreational wildlife killing (aka hunting), along with the Ryan Zinke at Interior appointment. Zinke will probably also bolster ranchers on public land, extraction industries on public land, and development on or near public land and cutting down and ranching on national forests. The wolf, grizzly, and other predators are threatened, to say the least, under Trump led GOP. The Trump cabinet is looking like the “United States of Exxon or Shell or BP”. The EPA and ESA are n trouble. Clean Power Plan and Paris Climate Accords are in trouble. Democracy and free speech may even be in trouble. The Anthropogenic Extinction (Sixth Great Extinction) will be accelerated. Maybe it will include humans as the threat of global and nuclear war rises with ever diminishing resources and competition for them. Class warfare will intensify as the governments distribute resources upward in flow up economic policies of plutocracy-kleptocracy.


    Billings Gazette] Guest opinion: Pruitt’s record bodes ill for Montana 01/09/2017

    Secretary of Federal Imperialism – WSJ
    Wall Street Journal › articles › secretary-…
    21 hours ago – Trump’s Interior choice is too deferential to Washington land grabs. … Further evidence is his choice of Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke for secretary of Interior. … The Interior Department is responsible for managing 640 million acres of federal land—28% of the U.S. Zinke appointment to Interior

    Jeb Bush: Scott Pruitt is ready to turn around the EPA
    CNN 12/20/2016 The former governor and presidential candidate says that in the 2016 election, the American people were clamoring for a dramatic shift of power out of a broken Washington and back into the hands of the people. Read the full story

    The extinction crisis is far worse than you think
    CNN 12/17/2016 The extinction crisis is far worse than you think. In all of Earth’s history, there have been five mass extinction events. You can see them charted here. Now, we’re on the verge of the sixth extinction. And three-quarters of all species could vanish. Imagine three out of four species that were common are gone. Anthony Barnosky, executive director of Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Stanford University This is the first time humans have caused anything like this. Species are going extinct at a Read the full story

    “We’re on the verge of witnessing the greatest assault ever on our environment: Keystone XL pipeline approved. Massive swaths of priceless public lands opened to fracking and drilling. Withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. Climate-change funding zeroed out. And that’s just Trump’s plan for his first 100 days. Never since the founding of the Sierra Club 124 years ago have we faced such an existential threat to everything we hold dear.” Sierra Club 12/17/2016

    “It’d almost be amusing, if it weren’t so, so dangerous:
    Trump just nominated former Governor of Texas Rick Perry to head the Energy Department. That’s one of the agencies Perry promised to eliminate — but famously forgot the name of — during the 2012 Republican primaries. Perry’s not only unfit to lead the Energy Department, he’s another climate-denying champion of Big Oil. And he’s the latest reason we must prepare for the fight of our lifetime.“ Sierra Club 12/14/2016

    “Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will make good on Trump’s promise to expand drilling on our public lands.” Sierra Club 12/10/2016

    Trump taps Montana congressman Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary The Washington Post 12/13/2016
    Zinke loves hunting

    Don Jr. helped pick the Interior Secretary Because He Likes Hunting New York Magazine 12/14/2016
    Conflict of interest? What conflict of interest? Read the full story

    The Clean Power Plan is a policy aimed at combating anthropogenic climate change (global warming) that was first proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in June 2014, under the administration of US President Barack Obama. The final version of the plan was unveiled by President Obama on August 3, 2015.
    Clean Power Plan – Wikipedia
    Wikipedia › wiki › Clean_Power_Plan

    The Wilderness Act, signed into law in 1964, created the National Wilderness Preservation System and recognized wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
    Wilderness Act – National Park Service – NPSWilderness
    National Park Service (.gov) › wilderness › …

  2. Renee, I agree.
    Thanks, Roger for your excellent expose’ of the dangerous Trump Regime. As this narcissist, racist, sexist dismantles Obama Care, and finally gets around to some vague, amorphous plan, just wait until all those one-dimensional-thinking supporters of his start to cry and grind their teeth. when they find out they are paying and not getting!

    Here’s what the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says:
    “By our estimates, Mr. Trump’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare would cost roughly $330 billion over ten years including estimates of faster economic growth, and $550 billion under conventional scoring.

    The policies would cause almost 21 million people to lose their insurance coverage, as the replacement health care policies would only cover 5 percent of the 22 million individuals who would lose coverage upon the repeal of Obamacare. This would almost double the number of Americans without health insurance.”

    And, Trump and his Billionaire Goldman Sachs cronies will gut many needed federal agencies, including the EPA, and load the Supreme Court with anti-abortion/contraception judges, with the goal of destroying Roe v. Wade.

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