U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency would evaluate a report on climate change, and derided the Obama administration for its apologetic stance on the issue and on the politicization of science in general.
In an interview last week with Fort Worth, TX-based WBAP-AM, Pruitt said the agency would complete its review of a draft version of a report on climate change, part of the National Climate Assessment (NCA), by a Friday deadline to do so. But he categorically denied a report by the New York Times that the Trump administration plans to suppress the report.
"We're going to review it, like all the other 12 agencies [required to review it] and evaluate the merits, demerits and the methodology and accuracy of the report," Pruitt said last Thursday. "[But] frankly, this report ought to be subjected to peer review methodology and evaluation.
"Science should not be politicized. Science is not something that should be thrown about to try to dictate policy in Washington, DC. It ought to be objectively measured, and we ought to be able to inform our citizens about what we know and what we don't know."
Under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, Congress mandated that an NCA is produced every four years. A draft version of the climate assessment was completed in June.
During the interview, Pruitt said the United States had reduced its carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint to pre-1994 levels through the use of innovation and technology. He cited the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas production and the switch to natural gas for power generation as major reasons for lower CO2 emissions.
"If we really care about reducing CO2 globally, we need to be exporting what we're doing in this country," Pruitt said. "What's lost in this whole discussion about climate and climate change [is that] warming happens. So do cooling trends.
"The climate changes always. Do we contribute to it? Yes. To what degree? Measuring that with precision is very challenging. But the big question is this: What is the process, and what do we do in response? We're already leading the world in the reduction of greenhouse gases [and] CO2. We need to be exporting what we're doing, not being apologetic about it here in this country."
He added that the Trump administration's decision this summer to withdraw from the 2015 global climate agreement signed in Paris in 2015 was "without question" the right decision.
"That was the Obama administration going to Paris and being apologetic, and not recognizing the very things that we've done as a country," Pruitt said. "The Paris accord was a bad business deal for this country, and represented an apologetic view of the progress we've already made as a country in leading these CO2 reductions."
When asked why his critics continue to have a preoccupation with CO2, Pruitt responded that such criticism "serves political ends."
"Frankly, [for] the last several years the past administration used the CO2 issue as a wedge issue. That's why we talk about it as much. Why aren't we celebrating what we're achieving with respect to CO2?"
Pruitt added that while he believes "there are a lot of good, hard-working folks" at the EPA, the agency "lost their mission" during the Obama years.
"There are many examples where the agency just hasn't done its core mission, and most importantly to me is that they haven't worked with their partners," he said. "One of the things that I've been focusing on is restoring that trust."