Carbon dioxide not ‘primary contributor’ to global warming, EPA chief says

Carbon dioxide not ‘primary contributor’ to global warming, EPA chief says
Scott Pruitt, President Trump's new administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, does not think carbon dioxide is the primary contributor to global warming, a belief his own agency contradicts.

On Thursday, CNBC “Squawk Box” host Joe Kernen asked Pruitt if he believes that carbon dioxide has been proven to be the “primary control knob” for climate change.

I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt said.

"But we don't know that yet. ... We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis," he said.

Pruitt’s statements run contrary to the EPA website, which definitively states: “Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also disagree with Pruitt.

The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere,” NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies reported in January, based on NASA and NOAA data.

The two agencies also said that global temperatures in 2016 were the warmest ever recorded.

In response Thursday, Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), co-chair of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, called Pruitt’s views “extreme” and “irresponsible.”

"Anyone who denies over a century's worth of established science and basic facts is unqualified to be the administrator of the EPA. Now more than ever, the Senate needs to stand up to Scott Pruitt and his dangerous views," he said in a statement.

"Anyone who denies over a century's worth of established science and basic facts is unqualified to be the administrator of the EPA. Now more than ever, the Senate needs to stand up to Scott Pruitt and his dangerous views," he said in a statement.

Schatz says that that lawmakers will hold Pruitt accountable through the appropriations process, through oversight of the EPA, and by making sure that the agency follows the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

He is still obligated to follow the law,” Schatz said.

Several other Democrats and climate scientists took to Twitter in protest of Pruitt’s comments.

In the interview, Pruitt said that the EPA should focus on reducing regulatory uncertainty, which he said has put a “paralysis on development.

Regulatory certainty is something we need to focus on at the EPA and that’s what we’re trying to re-instill in the agency presently,” Pruitt said. “This idea that if you're pro-environment you're anti-energy is just something we've got to change, so that attitude is something we're working on very much.

READ MORE: Trump’s nominee to lead EPA says human impact on climate change up for debate

Pruitt also called the Paris Agreement, an international accord to mitigate the impacts of climate change, “a bad deal” and said that he would soon be making an announcement on changes to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which set the average fuel economy for new cars and light trucks.