In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Pruitt also said the Trump administration will make an announcement on fuel efficiency standards for cars “very soon,” stressing that he and President Donald Trump believe current standards were rushed through.
Pruitt, 48, is a climate change skeptic who sued the Environmental Protection Agency he now leads more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s attorney general. He said he was not convinced that carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal is the main cause of climate change, a conclusion widely embraced by scientists.
“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact,” he told CNBC. “So no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”
Scientists immediately criticised Pruitt’s statement, saying it ignores a large body of evidence collected over decades that shows fossil fuel burning as the main factor in climate change.
“We can’t afford to reject this clear and compelling scientific evidence when we make public policy. Embracing ignorance is not an option,” Ben Santer, climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said in a statement.
The Supreme Court unleashed a fury of regulation and litigation when it ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases are an air pollutant that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. Two years later, the EPA declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants.
“Nowhere in the continuum, nowhere in the equation, has Congress spoken. The legislative branch has not addressed this issue at all,” Pruitt told CNBC.
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