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EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Questions Basic Facts About Climate Change

Scott Pruitt's comments on carbon dioxide come just over two weeks after he took the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency with the authority to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases as pollutants.

President Trump's head of the Environmental Protection Agency says he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a major cause of global warming.

"I would not agree that [CO2] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," Scott Pruitt said Thursday in an interview with CNBC's Joe Kernen.

"I believe 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," Pruitt said.

Those statements are at odds with an overwhelming body of scientific evidence showing that humans are causing the climate to warm by releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. The view that CO2 is a major heat-trapping gas is supported by reams of data, included data collected by government agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Pruitt's views are consistent with earlier comments he has made on the topic of climate change. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt often claimed that there was scientific uncertainty over whether humans are changing the climate.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that Pruitt is bringing in similar-minded political appointees to help run the EPA. Many come from the office of Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and longtime climate change denier.

Pruitt's comments come just over two weeks after he took the helm of the EPA, the agency with the authority to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases as pollutants. In 2014, the EPA unveiled rules that would require substantial reductions to greenhouse gases from power plants as part of a broader effort to limit global warming. The rule was contested by industry and states, and is currently under review in the courts.

Pruitt also said he believed that a major climate agreement reached in Paris was "a bad deal," and that he would soon be making an announcement about changes to so-called CAFE standards, which set fuel efficiency goals for cars and trucks.

Pruitt's latest statements on climate change come after the second-warmest February in the past 123 years, according to NOAA.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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