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EPA’s leaked talking points show agency now has doubts humans cause climate change

Scott Pruitt, the leader of the EPA, is skeptical that climate change is really caused by humans

An internal Environmental Protection Agency memo, sent to employees on Tuesday evening and obtained by HuffPost, lays out the agency’s talking points on climate change. In short: The EPA is skeptical that humans are responsible for our planet’s warming climate.

It makes clear, through a series of eight talking points, that under EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, established climate science is now up for debate.


“Administrator Pruitt encourages an open, transparent debate on climate science,” the last of point in the eight-point memo reads. There’s essentially no debate in the scientific community as to whether human activity is causing the climate to get warmer.

The points were written up by the EPA’s office of public affairs and sent out to staff by Joel Scheraga, a scientist with the EPA’s climate adaptation. The email was sent with the subject line “Consistent Messages on Climate Adaptation.”

Scheraga highlighted the first four points, which did not question climate science, as “relevant to our work,” suggesting at least some internal resistance to Pruitt’s new outlook within the EPA.

Just last week, the EPA announced that it wouldn’t consider what it called, “secret science” — any science for which the data isn’t publicly available. Much of the science that the agency uses relies on data that isn’t public — like medical records that are by law confidential — but the studies are peer-reviewed and sound. The move prompted two former EPA officials, one a former administrator, to publish an op-ed in the New York Times, calling it another of Pruitt’s efforts to “cripple the agency.”

Under Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA has embraced what Pruitt has termed a “back-to-basics” agenda, one that ignores climate change in favor of more “basic” principles like clean air and water. He’s said outright that man made carbon dioxide isn’t primarily responsible for warming the planet. And he’s tried to discredit climate science by pushing public, televised debates about it. Again, the scientific community is in agreement: 97 percent of scientists agree that we’re making the planet hotter.

Pruitt’s also proposed a repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s key proposal for keeping the United States within the goals set out in the Paris climate accord — an accord that Pruitt was also for abandoning. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would pull out of the agreement in June of last year.

“Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner,” the memo reads. “The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”

Read the full memo over at HuffPost.

Cover image: WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 7: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on December 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)