The Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said this morning that he doesn't believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor of climate change.
On CNBC's "Squawk Box," in Houston, Pruitt responded to a question about carbon dioxide and climate change by saying—as if it were a matter of debate—"I would not agree that [carbon dioxide] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."
This view, coming from the mouth of an individual that made a career fighting clean air and water regulation on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, and who, took part in 14 different lawsuits against the very agency he now leads, should not be a surprise. But it is wrong.
Pruitt's view is profoundly at odds with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who earlier this year released data showing 2016 to be the warmest year on record, breaking the previous record set the year before in 2015.
It also grates against the consensus of nearly 97 percent of the global climate scientific community, which asserts that climate change is not only driven by human activity, but is fueled heavily by carbon dioxide. Administrator Pruitt's office was not able to be reached for comment.
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But this is hardly out of character. As Oklahoma's Attorney General, Pruitt was chummy with the fossil fuel industry, even having energy companies draft letters for him to sign that he could then funnel off to the federal government in attempts at staving off environmental regulation. Pruitt also manned the helm of the 27 state lawsuit against the EPA over President Obama's signature emissions fighting legislation, the Clean Power Plan.
The administrator has balked at the groundbreaking Paris Climate Agreement, through which nearly every country on Earth has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saying that it was "a bad deal." Even now, he's busy at work packing his administration with climate change skeptics. Meanwhile, Secretary of State and former chief executive of Exxon Mobil Rex Tillerson, however, believes that the U.S. needs to stay in the agreement.
Pruitt is an administrator who came waltzing into his position arm and arm with the fossil fuel industry and riding the coattails of a president who believes climate change to be a hoax. That this man rejects the basic tenets of climate science should not be taking anyone's breath away, but it should have everyone on high alert.