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Trump's Cabinet
Scott Pruitt Is the 14th Administrator of the EPA

It’s official: Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s controversial pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, was confirmed by the Senate today. The 52-46 vote fell largely along party lines, and it installs Pruitt as administrator of the very agency he made his name as a politician railing against. As the New York Times reports, Pruitt is likely to bring about an end to President Obama’s marquee domestic green efforts:

Within days of Mr. Pruitt’s swearing-in, Mr. Trump is expected to sign one or more executive orders aimed at undoing Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, people familiar with the White House’s plans said.

While it will be impossible to undo the rules immediately, the presidential signatures would give Mr. Pruitt his marching orders to commence the one- to two-year legal process of withdrawing the Obama-era climate rules and replacing them with looser, more industry-friendly rules. It is also possible that under Mr. Pruitt, the Trump administration could pursue the bold legal strategy of challenging the underlying legal requirement that the federal government regulate planet-warming greenhouse gases in the first place.

Pruitt is a skeptic of anthropogenic climate change—he has said in interviews that the link between our warming planet and human activities is “subject to considerable debate.” On that fact, he’s dead wrong. The science behind the greenhouse effect, and the gases like carbon dioxide that exacerbate it, is rock solid. So too is the knowledge that we’re emitting those greenhouse gases in unprecedented amounts. The skeletal structure of our effect on climate change is not subject to debate, and the fact that the head of the EPA doesn’t see it that way will be understandably concerning to environmentalists.

That said, Pruitt’s insistence that dissent shouldn’t be considered criminal and that debate should be encouraged does have a place in modern climate science. Greens consistently exaggerate just how refined our understanding of our planet’s climate really is, setting themselves up to look downright foolish when models get things wrong or research uncovers new variables or feedback loops that can considerably alter our expectations for what comes next. Pruitt is correct when he asserts that climate science isn’t “settled,” and it’s not necessarily a bad thing that, under his guidance, the federal government might look at these issues with a more critical eye.

Taking a step back, however, Obama’s green legacy was going to take a clobbering no matter who was appointed to the EPA. Trump is expected to sign a raft of executive orders walking back his predecessor’s own executive orders, undoing much of Obama’s efforts. This is what happens when you push through policy without the support of the legislature: you open yourself up to quick negation by your successor. If you choose to live by the executive order, you have to be ready to die by the executive order. It’s not clear that Trump has much of an eye on his own legacy just yet, but if he does, he’d do well to remember that that truth will apply to him as well.

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  • CaliforniaStark

    “Pruitt is a skeptic of anthropogenic climate change—he has said in interviews that the link between our warming planet and human activities is “subject to considerable debate.” On that fact, he’s dead wrong. The science behind the greenhouse effect, and the gases like carbon dioxide that exacerbate it, is rock solid. So too is the knowledge that we’re emitting those greenhouse gases in unprecedented amounts.”

    This claim of infallibility boggles the mind. The mathematical models it is based on have proven false; despite an increase in greenhouse gases, the supposed warming that would result has not taken place. Am sure hundreds of years ago, WRM would have fiercely come to the defense of any challenge to the known truth that the earth was flat. Once science progress to know more about climate, this post may turn out to be an embarrassment to its author.

  • Andrew Allison

    “The science behind the greenhouse effect, and the gases like carbon dioxide that exacerbate it, is rock solid.” Absolute nonsense. The past 20 years have completely demolished the AGW alarmist arguments. And, the EPA manifestly went rogue under the Obama administration.

    • Tom_Tildrum

      Moreover, that statement betrays the author’s misunderstanding of the science. It is carbon dioxide that produces the greenhouse effect, but on its own, this effect is minimal. Warming theory posits that it is other gases beside CO2, principally water vapor, that then produce a large multiplier on the greenhouse effect. The science behind CO2 is rock solid. The positive feedback effects of other gases is far less clear. For instance, climate models cannot determine whether cloud cover produces a warming or a cooling effect.

      • rpabate

        I guess you cannot expect anything but climate alarmism from someone who inhabits the Progressive-Left echo chamber that is the university today. Universities stand to lose big if the climate change (a.k.a. catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) narrative is wrong. Not only will they lose funding big time, they will be seen as fools. So far the climate is not cooperating because the climate models are running to hot compared to the observations.

      • Andrew Allison

        Unhappily for the AGW alarmists, the dramatic increase in atmospheric CO2 during the past 20 years and absence of any statistically significant increase in global temperature suggest that the science behind CO2 is far from solid. It doesn’t matter whether other gases multiply the impact of CO2, that that it’s not increasing temperature is inescapable.

    • RedWell

      You know the old joke about the NYT headline? “World Ends, Women and Minorities Suffer Most”
      I think the analogue, here, is “Asteroid Strikes Earth, Undermines Climate Science Claims”

  • Fat_Man

    “the link between our warming planet and human activities is “subject to considerable debate.” On that fact, he’s dead wrong.”

    No. You are dead wrong. Here is a sample:

    “Advocates of the hypothesis that the recent global warming has been caused by human activity would have you believe that the science is settled and that we are all in agreement. This is simply not true.

    * * *

    “First, the link between increases in greenhouse gases and global temperatures is provided by global circulation models (GCMs). Since it is not possible to model radiative transfer or precipitation processes from the basic equations, GCMs resort to parameterization. Parameterization substitutes simple algebraic equations for these two critical processes.

    * * *

    “In order to determine the coefficients for the greenhouse gases, it is necessary to rely on the climatic record, say for the previous 20 years. This was a period of warming temperatures and increasing CO2 concentrations. Adjusting the coefficient for CO2 based on this dataset in essence assumes that the increase in CO2 was responsible for the increase in temperature. However, this same model is then used to state categorically that the observed warming has been due to the increases in greenhouse gases. It doesn’t take an expert in logic to recognize a circular argument.”

    http://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/readers-sound-29

    More at: https://wattsupwiththat.com/

  • Psalms564

    So we are not even going to mention NOAA cooking the books while declaring this that and the other “rock solid”. Cool…

  • Disappeared4x

    The author should clarify the claim that does seem absolutist, until the next paragraph. Is the ‘fact’ in question that human activity has caused a measurable increase in CO2 in the atmosphere over the time period since the coal-fired steam engine and industrialization, about 1800 CE to present? Is that the basis for “The science behind the greenhouse effect [being] rock solid,”, or is the greenhouse effect ‘model’ behind the dissent?

    The next paragraph contradicts that “rock solid” claim: “Greens consistently exaggerate just how refined our understanding of our planet’s climate really is, setting themselves up to look downright foolish when models get things wrong or research uncovers new variables or feedback loops that can considerably alter our expectations for what comes next. …”

    My concern is in the author’s conclusion: ” Taking a step back, however, Obama’s green legacy was going to take a clobbering no matter who was appointed to the EPA.” Seriously? Was not Candidate Clinton going to be Obama44’s THIRD term? Did not the 2016 DNC platform revolve around Bill McKibben’s view of climate change, openly willing to embrace slower GDP growth AND ‘no more hydrocarbons’ to somehow save South Beach?

    “If you choose to live by the executive order, you have to be ready to die by the executive order.” Perhaps there needs to be a third option. If the TrumpEO is written to change/reverse an ObamaEO, that does not count. Of course, apparently it DOES count bigly when a TrumpEO actually confirms a previous ObamaEO, as seems to be the case on the temporary ban on entry from seven muslim-majority nations. A third option is a new EO only counts towards legacy if it IS a new-enough issue needing a solution without bothering Congress.

    The over-reach of the EPA goes beyond a ‘green legacy’, and climate change. What purpose was there in regulating wood stoves to reduce particulate emissions in rural areas? or temporary ponds after heavy rain in Iowa? or dust from dirt roads?

    or, the real piñata, using EOs to use the EPA to enforce a ‘global’ treaty that clearly violates the U.S. Constitution: “U.S. Senate: Treaties. The Constitution provides that the president “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur” (Article II, section 2).”

    To the author: it is ok to dissent, support and defend the Constitution, and still keep our air, water, and land safe for all Americans, who after all, also need a job and heat in winter to stay alive.

    It is not ok to use the Environmental Protection Agency as the enforcer for a valid movement that morphed into a postmodern religion more dogmatic than the 17th century Puritans of Massachusetts.

    • Disappeared4x

      Adding, if only the neo-greenPuritans cared about wood-borne invasive species, beyond inter-state travel of firewood. Good luck absorbing CO2 when every ash, spruce, and maple tree in the lower 48 states is dead, releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere.

      Hyperbole? The American Chestnut was the keystone species of eastern forests from Maine to Virginia. Imported chestnuts from Japan for the Bronx Zoo took 50 years to murder an estimated FOUR BILLION trees.

  • FriendlyGoat

    What people will “live” or “die” by are the possible effects of dozens of environmental issues (not just anthropogenic climate change) and——-literally——whether EPA is correct in its response to them. The debate on each one is never about the legislature or the executive orders from that president or this president. The debate on each one is about the realities of each one. When we see Scott Pruitt actually championing the protection of citizens from the negative effects of any PARTICULAR environmental hazards even if doing so happens to inconvenience a corporation, that is time enough to evaluate whether he was best choice for EPA. Probably he won’t, unless he pre-clears some half-liberal talking point with the WH first—–but maybe he will. We should hope the EPA employees keep us informed from their basements in their off time as to what really goes on.

  • Dale Fayda

    I fervently hope that Pruitt slashes & burns a huge swath through the lawless EPA; immediately fires most of the top brass and generally clears the decks of Obama’s “fellow travelers” in what is now an unelected, unaccountable and uncontrolled tool of Left’s policy making.

    Rip ’em a new one, Scott!

  • Josephbleau

    “…the link between our warming planet and human activities is “subject to considerable debate.” On that fact, he’s dead wrong.” Based on this statement the author is ignorant of the scientific method.

  • ljgude

    It seems worth pointing out that the shift from the term global warming to climate change is an open admission that climate models have failed to predict – a basic requirement of scientific modelling. Since climate always changes the models are right no matter what it does and all change can be claimed as anthropogenic. Some scientists are pointing out that the task is too big and complex for our modelling tools. If the climate propagandists – NASA, East Anglia liars club – were honest about their limitations they could regain credibility. What I think is indisputable is that there is serious man made pollution that is harmful and dangerous but reversible. Fish have famously returned to the Thames and the Hudson and the air in some of today’s Chinese cities is dangerously unbreathable. I’m all for an EPA that stops goldmines doing things like dumping their cyanide waste in the river. Or fracking until all our china gets smashed in earthquakes. What is questionable is the Grand Narrative of global warming/climate Change which is not scientific but a millennial doomsday cult. Whenever doomsday fails to arrive as predicted the cultists simply set the doomsday further into the future. The tell is that the basic narrative is never discarded in the face of contrary evidence. Remember back at the beginning of the ‘pause’ when the warmists said the heat had to go somewhere so it must be hidden in the deep oceans were it couldn’t be seen. That said, I have to admit that climate change folks rise above to level of religious cult to that of institutionalized religion when they demand that people who question or deny their narrative admit their error or be imprisoned just as the Church imprisoned Galileo and forced him to recant. Good luck Mr. Pruitt.

  • marcossantiago

    “Pruitt is a skeptic of anthropogenic climate change—he has said in interviews that the link between our warming planet and human activities is “subject to considerable debate.” On that fact, he’s dead wrong. The science behind the greenhouse effect, and the gases like carbon dioxide that exacerbate it, is rock solid. So too is the knowledge that we’re emitting those greenhouse gases in unprecedented amounts. The skeletal structure of our effect on climate change is not subject to debate, and the fact that the head of the EPA doesn’t see it that way will be understandably concerning to environmentalists.”

    Frankly I am surprised to see this drivel on AI, usually a responsible source. Who wrote this piece? I certainly hope it wasn’t WRM.

  • Disappeared4x

    Recommended reading for TAI bloggers: “De-hypnotizing a Climate Science Zombie” “I recently stumbled upon a way to nudge anti-Trump zombies off the idea that 97% of climate scientists agree with each other and Trump is on the wrong side. I’m not arguing about the accuracy of the estimate because I have nothing to compare it to. I’m only concerned that people are trusting the fate of the planet to that estimate without knowing how it was derived. …” Posted February 20th, 2017 @ 3:11pm in #climate science

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/157498251636/de-hypnotizing-a-climate-science-zombie

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