Pruitt Had No Climate Data, EPA Admits

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For Immediate Release: Aug 07, 2018
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

Pruitt Had No Climate Data, EPA Admits

EPA Asking Its Climate Experts if They Know of Any Alternative Science

Washington, DC — When making public statements about climate change, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt admitted he had no supporting data, according to EPA correspondence released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The agency is now asking its own expert scientists if they know of any basis for Pruitt’s claims that human activity is not the principal driver of climate change.

In a 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 Freedom of Information Act 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 behind global climate change. The agency refused to answer the request, calling it “a trap”, even after PEER filed suit to force compliance.

This June, a federal court ordered EPA to surrender the requested materials to PEER. The agency ultimately found 12 pages of largely non-substantive records about the “Squawk Box” interview. In an August 1, 2018 letter to PEER, EPA attorney Jennifer Hammitt confirmed that there was nothing more:

“In addition to the above search, EPA presented the twelve pages of material…to the former Administrator before his departure from the Agency and asked him if he was aware of any other agency records that he relied upon to make the statement on the Squawk Box appearance. The former Administrator identified no additional responsive records.”

“It appears Scott Pruitt’s positions were utterly unencumbered by facts,” stated PEER General Counsel Paula Dinerstein. “Amazingly, Pruitt had the gall to preach ‘sound science’ until his disgraceful exit.”

His pre-interview notes did not even mention climate change but did include a reference that Pruitt was a baseball fan with this ironic tidbit “Yogi Berra favorite philosopher: ‘The future ain’t what it used to be’”.

Meanwhile, EPA is still engaged in an electronic search for any studies concluding human activity is not the main source of climate change. At PEER’s suggestion, EPA agreed to ask its own scientific experts if they knew of any such findings. As specified in the latest Joint Status Report filed with the court:

“With respect to this portion of the search, the parties further agreed that EPA may limit its search to three offices: (1) the Office of Air and Radiation, (2) the Office of Research and Development, and (3) the Office of Policy. EPA will send a query to the identified climate scientists in the above three offices no later than August 1. The parties further agreed that in conducting this search EPA will not be required to disclose to PEER the individual climate scientists who are consulted in these offices…”

“We are glad that perhaps for the first time during this administration, EPA is finally communicating with its own climate scientists, and we hope that an ongoing dialogue develops,” Dinerstein added. “At the end of the day, however, we believe EPA will be forced to admit that it has not a shred of evidence backing Pruitt’s ‘red team’ climate views.”


Read the EPA letter

View the 12 pages of Squawk Box-related records

See Joint Status Report describing ongoing search

Look at evolution of this case

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