EPA scientific integrity office reviewing
Pruitt's comments on carbon
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[April 01, 2017]
By Emily Flitter
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's scientific integrity watchdog is reviewing whether
EPA chief Scott Pruitt violated the agency's policies when he said in a
television interview he does not believe carbon dioxide is driving
global climate change, according to an email seen by Reuters on Friday.
Lawyers for environmental group the Sierra Club had asked the EPA's
Office of Inspector General to check whether Pruitt violated policy when
he told a CNBC interviewer on March 9, "I would not agree that it's a
primary contributor to the global warming that we see."
The EPA Inspector General's office responded to the Sierra Club on
Thursday in an email, saying it had referred the matter to the EPA's
Scientific Integrity Officer, Francesca Grifo, for review.
"If after the SIO review, she concludes there is some aspect of the
letter itself, or her findings or conclusions that she believes are
appropriate for further consideration by the OIG, she will so notify the
OIG," the email stated.
A spokeswoman for the EPA defended Pruitt's comments.
“Administrator Pruitt makes no apologies for having a candid dialogue
about climate science and commonsense regulations that will protect our
environment, without creating unnecessary regulatory burdens that kill
jobs," said Liz Bowman in an emailed statement.
"Differing views and opinions on scientific and technical matters is a
legitimate and necessary part of EPA’s decision-making process, which is
consistent with EPA’s scientific integrity policy that was in place even
during the Obama administration," she added.
The EPA website says its scientific integrity policy requires EPA
officials and staff to ensure the agency's work respects the findings of
the broader scientific community.
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Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), speaks to employees of the agency in Washington, U.S.,
February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
An overwhelming majority of scientists think that carbon dioxide
emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are a major contributor
to global climate change, triggering sea level rise, droughts and
more frequent violent storms.
The request by Sierra Club ramps up tension between the U.S.
environmental movement and the administration of President Donald
Trump, who has called global warming a hoax meant to weaken the U.S.
economy and has packed his cabinet with people who question the
science of climate change.
Grifo is a biologist who was hired by former President Barack
Obama's administration. Before she joined the EPA in late 2013, she
oversaw scientific integrity at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a
non-partisan group advocating stronger environmental protections.
Pruitt, a former attorney general for Oklahoma, sued the EPA more
than a dozen times over its regulations as top prosecutor for the
oil and gas producing state.
(Reporting By Emily Flitter; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Steve
Orlofsky and Bill Rigby)
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