POLITICS
01/24/2017 03:55 pm ET

Trump Budget Director Pick Does Not Believe Climate Change Is A Major Risk

Rep. Mick Mulvaney has good company in Trump's Cabinet.

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump’s nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget said Tuesday he does not believe that climate change is a major risk.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) pressed Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Trump’s pick for the Cabinet-level budget position, to clarify his views about climate change at Mulvaney’s Senate Budget Committee confirmation hearing.

“Climate change driven partly by human-generated CO2 emissions is a huge risk ― agree or disagree?” Kaine asked.

Mulvaney first tried to dodge the question by claiming climate change had nothing to do with the responsibilities of the OMB director, who is charged with creating the federal budget, advising the president on fiscal policy and supervising federal agencies.

Kaine conceded the point, but demanded an answer anyway.

“I’m not asking about OMB. I’m off OMB now,” Kaine said. “Statement of fact, agree or disagree ― you’re gonna follow the facts ― climate change driven partly by human-generated CO2 emissions is a huge risk, agree or disagree?”

“I’m not convinced we’re at the point where we have to start to require American citizens to pay high prices ―” Mulvaney began to reply, before Kaine interjected.

“I’m just asking, do you agree with the fact. Is climate change driven by human-generated CO2 emissions a huge risk?” Kaine repeated.

“Yeah, I challenge the premise of your fact,” Mulvaney said.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), left, talks with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) before his confirmation hearing on Jan. 24. Kaine l
Tom Williams/Getty Images
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), left, talks with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) before his confirmation hearing on Jan. 24. Kaine later interrogated Mulvaney about climate change.

It’s difficult to overstate how hostile the new administration appears toward environmentalists. Trump stacked his Cabinet with fossil fuel allies and executives, including naming former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. The president has vowed to boost the U.S. economy by eliminating regulations, particularly environmental rules.

Four nominees who would directly oversee environmental policies at the Environmental Protection Agency and Departments of State, Energy and the Interior broke with the president when they acknowledged during confirmation hearings that the climate is changing. But all of them denied the overwhelming scientific consensus that emissions from burning fossil fuels are the chief cause.

That rhetorical strategy ― employed by the oil and gas industry, too ― undermines accusations that someone is a “climate change denier” without forcing them to accept the need to do something to stop climate change.

“They’re still trying to manufacture doubt about the science ― that’s their goal ― in the same way the tobacco industry spent decades trying to confuse the public about the reality about tobacco being linked to cancer,” Elliott Negin, director of news and commentary at the nonprofit environmental group Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Huffington Post on Monday. “Their mantra might have changed, but their tactics are the same.”

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