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EPA environmental justice head resigns

WASHINGTON — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s office on environmental justice has resigned in protest over the Trump administration’s proposal to slash funding for programs that help poor and minority communities nationwide.

Mustafa Ali, an associate assistant EPA administrator, helped found the environmental justice office in the 1990s and worked under Republican and Democratic presidents.

Ali told InsideClimate News, which first reported on his resignation, that he sees no indication the Trump administration is interested in helping vulnerable communities. He says his “values and priorities seem to be different than our current leadership, and because of that I feel that it’s best if I take my talents elsewhere.”

Ali’s resignation letter urges EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reconsider proposals to cut EPA’s budget, including environmental justice grants, by one-quarter.

Earlier Thursday, Pruitt said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming, a statement at odds with mainstream scientific consensus and his own agency.

EPA chief: Carbon dioxide not primary cause of warming

Pruitt said measuring the effect of human activity on the climate is “very challenging” and that “there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

“So, no, I would not agree that (carbon dioxide) is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Pruitt’s view is contrary to mainstream climate science, including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the EPA itself.

NASA and NOAA reported in January that earth’s 2016 temperatures were the warmest ever. The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, “a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere,” the agencies said in a joint statement.The EPA says on its website that “carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.” The agency notes that human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, “release large amounts of CO2, causing concentrations in the atmosphere to rise.”

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