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EPA launching program to challenge climate science

July 2, 2017 at 4:50 PM EDT
In the latest move to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change, Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has recruited a team of researchers to challenge climate science. Emily Holden, who broke the story for E&E News’s ClimateWire, joins Hari Sreenivasan from Washington, D.C.

HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has launched the formal process to review and challenge mainstream climate science. The critique will reportedly be modeled on how the U.S. military identifies battlefield vulnerabilities. Emily Holden from “E&E News’s” climate wire broke the story on Friday and joins me now from Washington to discuss it.

So, explain, how this process is going to work?

EMILY HOLDEN, REPORTER, E&E NEWS: So, what we know so far is essentially that Administrator Pruitt wants to recruit scientists who work on this red team/blue team to sort of look at any potential vulnerabilities, any sort of uncertainty in climate change report. So, the red team would do that. The blue team would be the team producing and defending the reports.

SREENIVASAN: So, this kind of flies in the face of peer-reviewed scientific journal and how they actually put science forward.

HOLDEN: It does and that’s absolutely what you’ve heard from the scientific community in response to this. They’re saying, look, this is exactly how science is made. So, before we publish anything on climate change or any other matter, we’ve had it reviewed by other scientists who have looked to see that we’ve done everything correctly and that we come to the correct conclusions.

SREENIVASAN: And what about the fact that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists say that this is really not up for dispute? So, if you wanted to do this red team/blue team, would it be red team, three, and blue team, 97?

HOLDEN: Right. So, we don’t know a lot about what the specifics would look. It’s a pretty small group of people who are dissenters who do not agree with the vast majority of climate scientists who say that climate change is happening, that humans are a cause, a main cause, and that action needs to be taken as soon as possible to try to stall climate change.

SREENIVASAN: And how w did you find out this information on Friday?

HOLDEN: I actually was at an event where the president was speaking at the Energy Department headquarters and had a chat with Bob Murray who’s the CEO of Murray Energy, one of the biggest coal companies in the U.S. And he mentioned to me that he had had a meeting with Scott Pruitt that same morning at a coal lobby board meeting and that he had spoken to him about this issue and what he planned to do, and also whether he plans to challenge a legal finding that is the basis for U.S. greenhouse gas regulations.

SREENIVASAN: Put this in perspective on the other steps that Scott Pruitt has taken when it comes to climate.

HOLDEN: So, for the budget proposal, he has cut pretty much anything related to climate science that his agency does right now. It’s unclear whether Congress is going to approve the numbers that he and the president are looking at. But, essentially, he’s nixed anything that would work on climate science within the EPA. He has taken everything down from the Web site that he can.

So, that part is not a surprise. He’s also expressed that even that he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a main cause of climate change.

SREENIVASAN: Emily Holden from “E&E News”, thanks so much for joining us.

HOLDEN: Thank you.