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For Immediate Release: Jun 04, 2018
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

COURT ORDERS PRUITT TO PRODUCE HIS ALTERNATE CLIMATE SCIENCE

EPA Must Look for Any Scientific Study Supporting Pruitt’s Doubts on Human Role


Washington, DC — A federal court has rejected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal to search for scientific information Administrator Scott Pruitt relied upon in claiming that human activity is not a “primary contributor” to climate change, according to a ruling upholding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The agency must also produce any studies EPA possesses that support Pruitt’s stated skepticism of anthropogenic climate change by July 11.

In a March 9, 2017 interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Pruitt stated with respect to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases created by human activity “I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” He added “there’s a tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” of “human activity on the climate….” The next day PEER filed a FOIA request asking to see the studies upon which Pruitt based his claim and whether there are any EPA scientific studies that find human activity is not the largest factor driving global climate change.

Not only did EPA fail to respond within the statutory deadline, but even after PEER filed suit to compel production the agency contended that it would not respond because the suit is “a trap” in the form of an improper “interrogation” and a “fishing expedition” to explore Pruitt’s “personal opinion.”

In a June 1 ruling, Beryl Howell, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, brushed aside EPA’s objections, calling them “a reach too far” and “not persuasive”, observing that –

“Particularly troubling is the apparent premise of this agency challenge to the FOIA request, namely: that the evidentiary basis for a policy or factual statement by an agency head, including about the scientific factors contributing to climate change, is inherently unknowable.”

“The beauty of FOIA is that a government agency can run but ultimately can’t hide,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, noting that Pruitt was on TV identified as EPA Administrator and purporting to speak in his official capacity with no disclaimer that he was expressing his personal views. “This suit forces EPA to determine whether Mr. Pruitt’s statements had a factual basis or were full of hot air.”

For the past few months, Mr. Pruitt has promised to initiate a controversial “red team, blue team” review of climate science. He has persisted despite mounting scientific consensus, including the most recent interagency U.S. Climate Science Special Report that concluded it is “extremely likely,” with a 95 to 100% confidence, that humans are driving warming on Earth.

“How can there be a debate when the red team is hiding below the podium?” asked Dinerstein. ““In essence, we are asking Mr. Pruitt to put up or shut up on climate change.”


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Read the ruling


View the dueling briefs and the complaint