POLITICS
06/06/2017 11:20 am ET

Scott Pruitt (Sort Of) Answers Whether Trump Believes In Climate Change

The hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" asked the EPA head nine times before he gave an answer.

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, really doesn’t want to weigh in on whether President Donald Trump still believes climate change is a hoax.

After all, the subject barely came up during their discussions about withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, Pruitt claimed during an appearance Tuesday on MSNBC.

But after asking no fewer than nine times, the “Morning Joe” hosts finally got an answer ― sort of.

“The president has indicated... that the climate is changing,” Pruitt said.

The EPA administrator stopped short of commenting on whether Trump believes human activity is contributing to global warming, a concept agreed upon by at least 97 percent of climate scientists.

Other members of the Trump administration have likewise been hesitant to acknowledge the link between human activity and climate change.

Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos admitted to reporters that “the climate changes,” but wouldn’t comment on whether humans contribute to the phenomenon.

Still, Pruitt said Tuesday that he personally believes there’s a “human contribution” to global warming trends, though he wouldn’t say to what extent.

The real question, he said, is what Americans should do about climate change.

“We’re leading with actions, not words,” said Pruitt, who has repeatedly vowed to end what he calls the “war on coal” since taking on the EPA’s top role in February.

Trump’s actions indicate he isn’t too concerned with what many world leaders have called one of humanity’s most pressing problems. Since taking office in January, Trump has rolled back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, loosened regulations on the fossil fuel industry and pledged to expand oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

“I think what’s important... is that the president has said when we make decisions on environmental decisions internationally, that we put America’s interest first,” Pruitt said.

Pulling the U.S. out of the historic Paris climate agreement, as Trump has said he will do, appears to directly conflict with the interests of many Americans. Business leaders and scientists have warned withdrawal from the accord will likely damage American innovation and clout on the world stage, while polls indicate just 28 percent of Americans support the decision.

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