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Environment

After Being Sworn in, EPA Director Says Carbon Doesn’t Cause Climate Change

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The new head of the Environment Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, recently survived a gauntlet of congressional and public scrutiny during his nomination process, despite being  opposed by more than 234 leading environmental groups.  

Pruitt “fails to meet the basic criteria for the job,” the environmental activism group 350.org said; the National Resource Defense Council said Pruitt  “is the the worst pick ever confirmed to lead the EPA;” the Sierra Club said “the arsonist is now in charge of the fire department, and he seems happy to let the climate crisis burn out of control.”

Now that he’s safe in his position, he’s beginning to live up to these warnings.

Take Action: Tell the U.S. Government to Fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement

In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Pruitt returned to some of his controversial views.

"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, so no, I would not agree that [carbon dioxide is] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he said in the interview.

In fact, scientists do know that carbon dioxide plays a primary role in the warming of the planet and that rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will likely have disastrous effects in the decades ahead.

That the head of the EPA is making baldly incorrect statements about the climate weeks into his appointment is alarming to many environmental advocates.

And it’s not the only cause for alarm.

The Trump administration has already made it legal for coal companies to dump toxic waste into rivers, hinted that it wants to end Obama-era car emissions standards, and has begun the process of unraveling Obama’s keystone climate action policy the Clean Power Plan.

The budget proposal that the administration sent to Congress features deep cuts to the EPA, especially for programs that deal with climate change.

Read More: Trump's EPA Pick Scott Pruitt May Be the Worst Thing Ever to Happen to Planet Earth

And in one of the starkest illustrations yet of the EPA’s direction, Pruitt has begun staffing the agency with committed climate change skeptics.

While Pruitt insists that he will fulfill his job to protect the environment, the actions and overtures that he has made so far are not encouraging.

As former EPA director Gina McCarthy told The New York Times:

“It’s fine to have differing opinions on how to meet the mission of the agency. Many Republican administrators have had that,” she said. “But here, for the first time, I see someone who has no commitment to the mission of the agency.”