EPA administrator Scott Pruitt would be controversial even if he hadn't flown to Morocco in December (first-class, on the taxpayer dime) to lobby the country on the benefits of liquified natural gas while living in a condo owned by a lobbyist for the country's largest LNG exporter.
He is likely the first EPA head to axe scientists from the agency's Science Board so he could replace them with lobbyists for the industries the agency is supposed to regulate.
And, of course, he has routinely denied and downplayed the accepted science of climate change and human contributions to it through massive emissions of carbon dioxide.
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A year or so into his tenure, Pruitt's ideology-driven beliefs—directly contradicted by decades of global research by climate scientists—are now to be parroted by agency employees.
An internal e-mail leaked to Huffington Post instructs all agency personnel what words and phrases to use in downplaying the accepted conclusions of climate scientists.
The memo opens with several points that stress not studying or preventing climate change, but merely adapting to it.
Global carbon dioxide emissions, 1850-2030 [CO2 Information Analysis Center, World Energy Outlook]
The fifth point suggests that measuring the "degree and extent" of climate-change impacts "and what to do about it" are topics "subject to continuing debate and dialogue."
The memo suggests that humans are responsible only "in some manner" for climate change and "clear gaps" exist between "our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it."
As HuffPost notes, bluntly, "The assertions made in the new EPA talking points are not rooted in science."
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The memo suggests throughout that climate science is far too complicated for us to understand, rendering it an inevitable force that cannot be addressed or affected. Hence, we must just adapt to its effects.
That's not to say adapting to the effects of climate change won't be necessary, given the central role of coastal cities in generating much of this nation's wealth.
But policymakers in Europe, China, and other Asian countries not only accept climate science but are working aggressively and simultaneously both to reduce future carbon emissions and to mitigate the impacts of current and future climate change.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt [photo from 2014]
In the U.S., however, the Trump administration is headed by a president who has said climate change is a hoax invented by China, and who appears to believe the well-funded campaign to cast doubt on climate science backed for two decades by fossil-fuel companies and extreme political factions.
Hence, the current administration appointed to run its Environmental Protection Agency a man who had sued the EPA more than a dozen times (largely unsuccessfully) to prevent it from enforcing emission rules on fossil-fuel producers when he was attorney general of Oklahoma.
Pruitt and the administration have worked aggressively to roll back every effort put in place by the Obama administration to limit carbon emissions.
Those range from the Clean Power Plan that directed states to develop carbon-reduction plans most suitable for their circumstances to EPA rules that reduced carbon emissions by road vehicles, aligned with rising NHTSA corporate average fuel-economy rules.
The agencies are expected to delay, modify, roll back, conceivably even eliminate those fuel-economy rules at the behest of automaker lobbying groups.
The deadline for issuing proposed modifications is tomorrow. Stay tuned.
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