Trump Nominees Dodge ‘Climate Denier’ Charge

  • Date: 22/01/17
  • Timothy Cama, The Hill

President Trump’s Cabinet nominees have delivered a similar refrain on climate change that could head off criticisms of the administration on the issue and makes it difficult for environmentalists and Democrats to label Trump’s staffers “climate deniers.”

Trump nominees dodge 'climate denier' charge
© Greg Nash

At Senate confirmation hearings in recent days, the nominees have all said that the climate is changing, and that human activity is a factor. But they say that the extent of human influence is up for study and debate, as is the discussion of what policy prescriptions might be required.

“Science tells us that the climate is changing, and that human activity, in some manner, impacts that change,” said Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which, under former President Obama, had been the main agency to implement policies limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

“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, and well it should be,” said Pruitt, who is now attorney general of Oklahoma.

“I believe the climate is changing,” said Rick Perry, the pick to lead the Department of Energy.

“I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity.

“The question is, how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth, the affordability of energy or American jobs,” he said, a contrast from his previous position that climate science was wrong.

Interior Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke and Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson offered a similar message.

The new refrain makes it difficult for environmentalists and Democrats to label Trump’s staffers “climate deniers,” a term they’ve used to attack politicians skeptical of climate science.

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