For Immediate Release: Jul 02, 2018
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
EPA Still Cannot Find Pruitt’s Alternate Climate Science
Agency Asks Court for More Time to Develop “an Appropriate Search Methodology”
Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is trying to delay a court order that it produce the scientific information Administrator Scott Pruitt relied upon in claiming that human activity is not a “primary contributor” to climate change. A federal court has now given EPA an additional three weeks, until August 1, to surrender the materials to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) to satisfy a previous order resulting from a PEER Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
In a March 9, 2017 interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Pruitt stated that human activity is not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” The next day PEER filed a FOIA request asking to see the studies upon which Pruitt based his claim and whether there are any EPA scientific studies that find human activity is not the largest factor driving global climate change.
Not only did EPA fail to respond within the statutory deadline, but even after PEER filed suit to compel production the agency contended that it would not respond because the suit is “a trap” in the form of an improper “interrogation.” Last month, a federal court rejected EPA’s refusal to search for records.
On Tuesday, June 26, EPA submitted a motion asking for more time: “As of today, however, EPA and its counsel are still working on developing an appropriate search methodology.” PEER opposed this latest EPA motion for “enlargement” of scheduled compliance. This was EPA’s fourth such motion in this case.
In a June 29 ruling, Beryl Howell, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ordered EPA to complete its search for the Pruitt climate science by July 11 and to produce by August 1.
“Scott Pruitt’s climate science is like Bigfoot – controversial but as of yet no confirmed sightings,” stated PEER General Counsel Paula Dinerstein, pointing out that EPA has not even begun the search that was ordered to be completed by today. “We suspect EPA is stalling to avoid the moment when it has to admit in open court that Mr. Pruitt was simply talking out of his hat.”
On the second part of the PEER request for any EPA studies concluding that human activity is not the main driver of climate change, Judge Howell chided “EPA’s continued mis-reading of the FOIA request” and for reiterating “already-rejected arguments.” But she did note that PEER had previously “helpfully clarified” the request and directed the parties to “to confer and submit, by noon on July 6, 2018, a joint report regarding the search criteria agreed-to and not agreed-to…”
“PEER is more than willing to help EPA search its own database, although one would think a federal agency should be capable of undertaking such a pursuit without needing guidance from a small non-profit,” Dinerstein added, noting that in the past EPA has identified a mountain of studies, reports, and findings that show human activity as the primary contributor to climate change but not one that reaches the opposite conclusion. “Perhaps the problem is that EPA has banished all its climate experts and must rely upon staff who have little grasp of the extensive work the agency has done in this field.”