EPA’s Pruitt Sued to Back up Climate Change Claims

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EPA’s Pruitt Sued to Back up Climate Change Claims

Pruitt Should Put Up Evidence Supporting Stance or Cease Climate Denials

Washington, DC — A lawsuit filed today seeks the data that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt relied upon in making statements that human activity is not a “primary contributor” to climate change. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) also seeks to determine whether EPA possesses a single study that supports Mr. Pruitt’s stance.

In a March 9, 2017 interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Pruitt stated that as to carbon dioxide created by human activity “I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” He also said “there’s a tremendous disagreement about of the impact” of “human activity on the climate.…”

The next day PEER filed a FOIA request asking to see the studies upon which Pruitt based his claim and also to see if there is any EPA scientific finding that human activity is not the largest factor driving global climate change. Notably, EPA’s own climate change webpage cites as “basic information” that:

“Humans are largely responsible for recent climate change. Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy, although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural practices also emit gases into the atmosphere.”

“This lawsuit tells Mr. Pruitt to put or shut up – produce his evidence or stop spouting deceptive climate pseudo-science,” stated PEER Staff Counsel Adam Carlesco who filed suit after EPA failed to produce the requested materials within FOIA’s statutory deadlines. “His confirmation as EPA Administrator does not entitle Mr. Pruitt to ignore existing agency research and proclaim his own set of alternative facts.”

Additionally, his statements are contrary to official EPA policy as articulated in the agency’s EPA’s 2009 Endangerment Finding, which declares that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to climate change, endangering the public health and welfare. This finding was based on a comprehensive review of available science and still remains EPA’s official policy.

“Mr. Pruitt spoke on television in his official capacity and must do so in a manner that honestly represents EPA’s scientific findings,” added Carlesco, noting that any other EPA employee would be subject to disciplinary action for presenting personal views as official policy. “Even if Mr. Pruitt is presenting his personal opinion, he must specify that he is not speaking for the agency – a disclaimer he did not make.”

EPA’s Scientific Integrity Policy requires all employees to “communicate science with honesty, integrity, and transparency” and enjoins employees to “not knowingly misrepresent, exaggerate, or downplay areas of scientific uncertainty.” Last month, the Sierra Club filed a formal complaint that Pruitt’s “Squawk Box” statements violate this policy. Pruitt, however, has not committed to respect EPA’s Scientific Integrity Policy. Meanwhile, agency employees report concerns that Administrator Pruitt will order a purge of EPA scientific work that conflicts with his political positions.


Read the PEER lawsuit

View EPA climate change webpage

Look at Trump’s unresolved scientific integrity dilemma

See EPA’s Scientific Integrity Policy

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