President Donald Trump’s chief of staff killed EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s idea to publicly debate the merits and demerits of man-made global warming, according to a report Friday from The New York Times.
John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, put a screeching halt to Pruitt’s goal to craft a read team and blue team to challenge climate change science, three people familiar with the deliberations told TheNYT. Trump has expressed interest in the idea.
Pruitt, who famously sued the agency more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s attorney general, spent more than a year championing the notion of holding military-style exercises to question the validity of climate change. He even floated the idea of televising the debates, all in an effort to bring transparency to the science.
Military and intelligence agencies use a similar debate tactic to expose vulnerabilities to strategic systems. The tactic would give needed balance to climate science, a field of research many believe has been monopolized by activists, skeptics say. Some in the administration were enthusiastic supporters, however, Kelly and others were skeptical about the proposal.
White House officials were in agreement that Pruitt’s idea was unwise, according to sources who attended a meeting discussing the proposal. Their main objection was that a public debate on the hot-button issue of climate science could create an unnecessary distraction as Trump seeks to pullback elements of former President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.
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Some inside the administration worried the debate would muddy the waters of Pruitt’s de-regulatory mission. The Environmental Protection Agency finalized 22 deregulatory actions in 2017, which could save $1 billion in regulatory costs. The agency is working on another 44 deregulatory actions, including the repeal of the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule.
Elements within the Obama administration even promoted the idea. Steve Koonin, a former Energy Department head during Obama’s tenure, for instance, suggested a red team-blue team approach in an April editorial to put the issue to rest. He was a rarity in the Obama administration.
Koonin has “no dog in this fight,” he told TheNYT in an interview, meaning there are uncertainties in the science that are worth exploring, but he can still be convinced that climate change is a unique threat deserving of immediate action.
The EPA has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the validity of TheNYT’s report.