Pruitt slams ‘false narrative’ on climate report

Source: Nina Heikkinen, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 16, 2017

U.S. EPA boss Scott Pruitt is downplaying the importance of a climate report that has sparked concerns that the Trump administration will ignore global warming data that don’t fit with its political agenda.

Speaking to an Iowa TV news program Sunday, Pruitt criticized what he called a “false narrative” surrounding scientists’ fears that Pruitt and President Trump might dismiss the findings from 13 federal agencies that climate change is already clearly affecting the United States.

“The report doesn’t impact the process,” Pruitt told KCCI News in Des Moines. “It doesn’t impact the responsibilities that we are taking already with respect to CO2. And so I think some of those are simply legend and false narrative that people try to put on the marketplace.”

The draft section of the National Climate Assessment has attracted national attention since it was reported on by The New York Times last week.

The report contradicts Pruitt and others in the Trump administration who argue that the causes of climate change are difficult to pin down precisely. It states that humans are already having a clear impact on the climate, from more heat waves to fewer cold days (Climatewire, Aug. 9).

Last week, Pruitt told a conservative Dallas radio show on WBAP that EPA and the other 12 agencies would be reviewing the draft report’s methodology. He said that the report ought to be subjected to objective peer review and that science should not be “thrown around to dictate policy in Washington, D.C.” (Greeenwire, Aug. 11).

Discussing the report on Sunday, Pruitt touted U.S. efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions, pointing to technological innovations and EPA partnerships with industry.

The United States does not “have anything to be apologetic about” when it comes to controlling CO2 emissions, he said. As he has in previous media appearances, Pruitt credited advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for reducing CO2 emissions domestically.

“If we really care about our environment and CO2 reduction, then we ought to produce more here, because we do it better than India, we do it better than China, and people who have traveled to those places know that. They know that from the air that they breathe there,” he said.

Pruitt also praised the Clean Air Act for leading to a 65 percent reduction in air pollutants since 1980. He contrasted the U.S. regulatory system to that of Italy, which he called “deficient” compared with the United States because it lacked its own Clean Air Act and did not partner with industry.

“I think we’re making tremendous progress as a country and we are going to continue to do that, and as we evaluate this going forward, we are going to continue to ask the question, what authority do we have to regulate greenhouse gases and CO2 under the Clean Air Act?” he said.

Pruitt’s comments came as he travels around the country in a “State Action Tour” this summer. He is aiming to visit 25 states by the end of August. Much of the tour’s focus has been on the administration’s rollback of the controversial Clean Water Rule, but he has also responded to a number of questions from local media about what the administration should be doing about climate change.