Pruitt Reveals Views on Climate Change: NRDC Files FOIA

What in the world could have prompted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to say this week that carbon dioxide—which has exceeded an atmospheric concentration of 400 parts per million, the highest in three million years—is not a major contributor to climate change?

NRDC wants to know.

Asked on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” program about his views on whether carbon dioxide contributes to global warming, Pruitt responded: “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so, no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

This is crazy talk. Pruitt’s belief is so confounding, so contrary to established science and, frankly, even apparently inconsistent with his own past statements, NRDC wants to know what prompted him to make that claim and to out himself as a true climate denier.

That’s why NRDC filed a Freedom of Information Act request today with the Environmental Protection Agency. In our FOIA we seek:

  • All records that Administrator Pruitt considered or relied upon for the statement to CNBC concerning humans’ contribution to climate change.
  • All records that Administrator Pruitt considered or relied upon to develop his understanding of humans’ contribution to climate change.
  • Records of all meetings, telephone calls or other discussions that Administrator Pruitt held, including schedules of such meetings, to discuss humans’ contribution to climate change.

It’s particularly timely. Pruitt’s comments come as the administration prepares soon to sign an executive order rolling back the Clean Power Plan, our country’s best chance to curb the carbon pollution which scientists tell us IS causing climate change, and from its largest source, the nation’s fossil-fueled power plants.

Pruitt’s doubts about human activity being a major contributor to climate change fly in the face of broad scientific consensus. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes about 2,000 international scientists, found that it is “extremely likely” that most of the global warming in recent decades was due to human emissions of carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases.

His new climate-denialism is also inconsistent with what he told senators during his confirmation hearing in January. Back then, he told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee: “Science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change.”  

Has Pruitt changed his view in the past couple of weeks or was he not being honest to Congress? We need to know who he has met with to talk about climate science and what articles he’s been reading to help answer that question.

We hope our FOIA will reveal what happened. The American people deserve to know. 

About the Authors

Ben Longstreth

Senior Attorney, Climate & Clean Air program

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