EPA Director Scott Pruitt and MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough squared off against each other Tuesday morning over whether President Donald Trump still believes climate change is a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese following his decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.
"I think what's important, Joe, is that the president has said when you make decisions on environmental decisions internationally that we put America's interest first," Pruitt told Scarborough, while defending the president's decision.
"The president said the climate is changing."
However, Scarborough argued the provisions of the Paris accord were voluntary, and told Pruitt that "we're just trying to get an answer from you," as it's "important for Americans to know whether their president believes that global warming was hatched as a conspiracy theory in China. Doesn't that matter to you?"
"With respect to the voluntary contributions you're talking about, the 26 percent to 28 percent, when you look at domestically third party lawsuits, you've heard about the litigation where the EPA has sued and compels regulatory response," Pruitt replied. "The framers of the Paris accord understood that America would take regulatory steps to carry out that 26 to 28 percent reduction. When we're withdrawing energy independent order, that creates a gap of almost 60 percent. It created exposure with respect to obligations."
That was when Scarborough said the interview had to "stop in its tracks until I just get a yes-no answer from you on whether you believe it's important that Americans find out whether their president believes that climate change is a conspiracy theory based out of China."
Pruitt reiterated that Trump has said the climate is changing, and that during his own confirmation process, he also said the climate is warming and "there's a human contribution to it."
The "real question," said Pruitt, is what to do about the problem.
"What we've done as a country is lead through innovation and technology," said Pruitt. "As I indicated since the year 2000, a reduction of over 18% in that CO2 footprint through hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling. You don't hear that from the environmental left. We ought to be exporting that so other nations can get to natural gas."
Scarborough, though, told him that the position he explained was much different than Trump's tweet, posted back in 2012, about the issue being a hoax,
"The president has indicated the climate is changing," said Pruitt, "I think you're trying to get away from the merits and demerits of the Paris accord."
Further, said Pruitt, with what the United States has done as a nation to address its carbon dioxide footprint, "Paris has almost become symbolic" and is "mostly words."
Pruitt earlier in the interview commented that the decision had been made to pull out of the Paris accord because it put the United States at a "disadvantage economically," even though several steps had been taken to reduce the carbon dioxide footprint.
"We're at pre-1994 levels with our CO2 footprint," said Pruitt. "From 2000 to 2014, we reduced it by 18 percent. What Paris represented was a commitment to achieve things that were unachievable. The previous administration, with every step they took still fell 40% short of those 26 to 28 percent targets."
Meanwhile, he said the EPA and the government should not be in the business of "picking winners" between coal and solar energy, as "all jobs matter."
"The last seven months we've had a growing job market including coal," said Pruitt. "We see actually optimism in that sector...it is not a wise thing to limit the number of resources. It creates vulnerabilities. We need more diversity from coal, natural gas, oil, hydro, nuclear, across the board."
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