Scott Pruitt has his own version of science and is using it to make decisions that will impact every living thing on the planet. Now a federal judge is requiring that he produce evidence to support his claim that human activities, such as extracting and burning fossil fuels, clear-cutting forests, paving vast sections of the country, fracking, and pouring millions of gallons of chemicals into agricultural lands, have no impact on the environment or climate change.
Critics of the head of the Environmental Protection Act say that Pruitt will not be able to produce such evidence, because no such evidence exists. Meanwhile, peer-reviewed evidence collected by thousands of scientists over many decades does exist to support that claim that human activity has a significant negative impact on the environment and is the main cause of climate change.
But maybe Pruitt knows something all those scientists don’t. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, filed a Freedom of Information Act to find out. The group requested “EPA documents that support the conclusion that human activity is not the largest factor driving global climate change.” The chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Beryl Howell, has ordered the agency to comply.
“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,” said Howell. Pruitt will have to produce evidence by July 2—evidence that refutes the science that the Obama administration used to create its regulations on environmental issues, regulations that Pruitt has been dismantling.
“I expect the documents will show the scientific case for Pruitt’s claim is not only thin, but positively anorexic,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “They may reveal even greater contacts with the climate denial community than has already been shown.
“This could also strengthen the challenges to some of the deregulatory actions by the administration, showing they have no valid basis.”