By Michael Bastasch
It was “absolutely false” the White House shot down plans for a public debate on global warming science, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday.
The concept of a “red team, blue team exercise” had “evolved” since he first proposed it last year, Pruitt said. “Don’t believe everything you read,” Pruitt told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
White House chief of staff John Kelly “killed” the effort before any public announcements could be made, The New York Times reported March 9th. Kelly “considered the idea ‘dead’ and not to be discussed further,” White House officials said at a mid-December 2017 meeting, NYT reported.
White House officials derailed a public red-blue team exercise, while they suggested alternate routes, an E&E News follow up report claimed. The exercise has indeed “evolved,” Pruitt told TheDCNF.
Reports of White House opposition to his red-blue team debates were “absolutely false,” Pruitt added, echoing comments he made before Congress in January.
“The red team, blue team exercise has evolved a little bit,” Pruitt explained to TheDCNF. “We’ve been working diligently over the last several months to determine the best way forward to encourage this open, honest, transparent debate about these very important issues. The American people deserve that, frankly, they deserve it.”
“If some believe that CO2 poses an existential threat to mankind, they think it’s more important than North Korea — they do, don’t they?” Pruitt asked, adding, “if that’s the case, I want to know it.”
“Let us make sure that there’s an honest discussion about that,” Pruitt continued. “Let’s go into this and actually have an open mind about what we know and what we don’t know. That’s something we’re working on, we’ll continue to work on, and preferably have some answers on that soon as well.”
Pruitt suggested a red-blue team-style exercise to debate climate science last year, echoing former Obama Energy Department official Steven Koonin, who advocated for such an exercise in The Wall Street Journal.
The military uses red-blue team exercises to expose vulnerabilities in strategic plans. President Donald Trump embraced Pruitt’s call for such debates, according to reports, as well as scientists skeptical of catastrophic global warming.
Scientists claiming to be part of the “consensus” and environmentalists oppose red-blue team debates, arguing they will be used to discredit climate science.
Pruitt did not go into detail on how exactly the red-blue team exercise had “evolved,” but E&E’s report suggested EPA could take comments on the endangerment finding.
White House officials told EPA staffers they could review the 2009 endangerment finding, taking public comments on the state of climate science, E&E reported. The endangerment finding was issued under the Obama administration and gives EPA legal cover to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
In fact, Pruitt had concerns over how the Obama administration finalized the 2009 endangerment finding so quickly, utilizing United Nations assessments instead of EPA-generated studies, he said.
“I think the process most definitely was a process that was abused,” Pruitt told TheDCNF.
“Anytime that this agency, or any agency, that would go to a third party, like the UN — in that case the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — and took the work product of the IPCC and then transferred it to this agency and used that as the basis by which the decision was made, that’s a breach of process, in my view,” Pruitt added.
The George W. Bush administration began the endangerment finding in 2008 but dragged its feet, allowing the Obama administration to take it up in 2009 and quickly turn around a finding carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases threatened public health.
Conservative groups have petitioned Pruitt to reconsider the endangerment finding, citing reports from independent researchers arguing global warming is overblown and relies on flawed climate models.
Pruitt did not say whether or not he would reconsider the finding but tied the matter to the larger issue of transparency in science EPA relies on to issue regulations.
“I think what’s important there — and that’s what drives this discussion that I’ve been focused on over the last four or five or six months on ensuring that there’s an objective, transparent discussion on what do we know and what don’t we know with respect to CO2,” Pruitt said.
“How do we know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100, looking out 82 plus years, right? It’s a fair question, right? Particularly if you’re basing policy on it now,” Pruitt noted.
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