Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, does not want the regulatory agency he runs to do anything at all. Most of all, he doesn’t want the EPA to do anything about the biggest long-term problem both the agency and the rest of human civilization faces: climate change, which he recently argued actually might be good.
This has been a theme throughout his tenure; one of his first actions after being confirmed was to shut down the office which dealt with preparations for the worst effects of climate change. Now, a leaked EPA memo obtained by HuffPo, showing a list of approved “talking points” with regards to climate change, indicates how the agency is going to publicly downplay the human effects of climate change and push the idea of a “debate” around the issue as if it already hasn’t been scientifically settled.
The memo was distributed by senior advisor Dr. Joel Scheraga (via Nancy Grantham, a flack from the EPA’s Office of Public Affairs) on Tuesday night, according to HuffPo. After milquetoast promises to help governments and people respond to the effects of climate change, the talking points go on to say that the causes...the causes are very much up for debate:
- Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner. 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.
- While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it.
- As a key regulatory voice, it is important for the Agency to strive for a better understanding of these gaps given their potential significant influence on our country’s domestic economic viability
- Administrator Pruitt encourages an open, transparent debate on climate science.
The only reason that “climate change debate” has entered our vernacular is because companies who have a lot to lose from the death of fossil fuels have put money behind the narrative that there are two sides to the story of climate change rather than one scientific consensus, which is that it’s happening and we’re mostly to blame. And if Pruitt were encouraging of an “open, transparent debate,” he probably wouldn’t have personally ordered scrubbing mentions of climate change from the EPA’s website.
The EPA pushed back on HuffPo’s reporting, but only seemed to take issue with a characterization that it was an “official memo,” which the reporter, Alexander Kaufman, didn’t make in the piece. “This is not an official memo; this is simply an email among colleagues, based on information developed by someone in our office,” an EPA spokesperson told HuffPo. “Implying we are telling people to downplay climate change is a gross over misrepresentation (sic) of the facts.”