Scott Pruitt, the climate-denying administrator of Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, was never supposed to earn support or respect from the environmental community. But it didn’t take him long to incur the wrath of one of the alt-right hoax sites that helped bring him to power.
“Criticism from the left and center was inevitable for a former attorney general who challenged environmental rules on 14 occasions,” Grist reports, in a post that originally appeared on Mother Jones. “But the same week the Trump administration rolled out its executive orders targeting the Obama administration’s work on climate change, Pruitt also faced an onslaught of unexpected criticism from the far right. Climate change deniers think Pruitt hasn’t gone far enough or fast enough or stood his ground defending their position on the science. And that’s just for starters.”
“If Scott Pruitt is not up to that task, then maybe it’s about time he did the decent thing and handed over the reins to someone who is,” Breitbart News warned, just weeks after praising him for doing “the Lord’s work”.
Much of the alt-right angst has to do with Pruitt’s failure to roll back the endangerment finding, a science-based determination that greenhouse gases threaten Americans’ health, that provides the foundation for the EPA’s work on climate change. But challenging the finding will be tougher than climate deniers might like to think.
“The science basis for climate change and the fact that human activity is the driver of increased CO2 in the atmosphere is, if anything, more compelling than it was in 2009,” when the finding was first issued, former EPA executive Janet McCabe told Mother Jones. “Any review of the endangerment finding would need to consider all the available science and respond to the public comments that will certainly be provided to the agency on such an important issue. Any revision to the finding will surely be challenged in court, and EPA would need to be able to defend in court any conclusion that is contrary to the vast majority of climate and other scientists in the U.S. and around the world.”
But even Fox News pushed back earlier this month when Pruitt tried to defend his rejection of the scientific reality that carbon dioxide is a primary cause of climate change.
“Mr. Pruitt, there are all kinds of studies that contradict you,” said Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace. “What if, in fact, the earth is warming, what if it is causing dramatic climate change and we as humans through carbon emissions are contributing to it? Simple question, what if you are wrong?”
After Pruitt acknowledged that the “climate is changing and human activity contributes to that change in some measure,” Breitbart columnist James Delingpole criticized him for “wobbling on science denial,” writes correspondent Rebecca Leber. Delingpole called the exchange “an ugly and painful sight.”