Scott Pruitt refuses to concede to Bernie Sanders on human impact to climate change during EPA confirmation
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testified in front of the Senate Wednesday during his confirmation hearing to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Pruitt has long denied the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.
The exchange with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders got heated and Pruitt repeatedly refused to concede human-caused climate change.
Sanders: “Some 97 percent of scientists who have written articles for peer-reviewed journals have concluded that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already causing devastating problems in our country and around the world. Do you believe that climate change is caused by the emission—by carbon emissions by human activity?”
“Senator, as I indicated—you weren’t in here during my opening statement, but as I indicated in my opening statement, climate—the climate is changing, and that human activity contributes to that in some manner,” Pruitt countered.
Some transcript from Democracy Now:
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: In some manner.
SCOTT PRUITT: Yes, sir.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Ninety-seven percent of the scientists who wrote articles in peer-reviewed journals believe that human activity is the fundamental reason we are seeing climate change. You disagree with that?
SCOTT PRUITT: I believe the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity’s impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or whether human activity contributes to it.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: So you are applying for a job as administrator for the EPA to protect our environment. Overwhelming majority of scientists say we have got to act boldly. And you’re telling me that there needs to be more debate on this issue?
SCOTT PRUITT: It’s a debate hall.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I’m asking your personal opinion.
SCOTT PRUITT: My personal opinion is immaterial to the—
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Really?
SCOTT PRUITT: —to the job of—to the job of carrying out—
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: You are going to be the head of the agency to protect the environment, and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial?
SCOTT PRUITT: Senator, I’ve acknowledged to you that the human activity impacts the climate.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Impacts. If that’s the kind of EPA administrator you will be, you’re not going to get my vote.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley questioned Scott Pruitt about a 2011 letter the Oklahoman attorney general sent to the EPA opposing regulations limiting emissions from the energy sector.
Merkley said much of the letter was largely written by the Oklahoma company Devon Energy.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: You used your office as a direct extension of an oil company, rather than a direct extension of the interests of the public health of the people of Oklahoma. Do you acknowledge that you presented a private oil company’s position rather than a position developed by the people of Oklahoma?
SCOTT PRUITT: Senator, I—with respect, I disagree. The efforts that I took as attorney general were representing the interests of the state of Oklahoma.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Why do you need an outside oil company to draft a letter when you have 250 people working for you?
SCOTT PRUITT: Senator, as I’ve indicated, that was an effort that was protecting the state’s interest and making sure that we made the voices of all Oklahomans heard on a very important industry to our state. There was concern—
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: You said all heard, but you only sent it on behalf of a single voice: the oil company. Thank you.