When it comes to climate change, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt is pretty great at burying his head in the sand. No matter how much research climate experts throw at him, he appears impervious to scientific facts.
On Wednesday, Pruitt announced his intention to completely ignore last week's government climate report that found humans are the primary cause of climate change. Instead, Pruitt told USA TODAY that he will continue with his plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which he argues represents regulatory overreach.
"We're taking the very necessary step to evaluate our authority under the Clean Air Act and we'll take steps that are required to issue a subsequent rule. That's our focus," Pruitt said during the interview.
"Does this report have any bearing on that? No it doesn't. It doesn't impact the withdrawal and it doesn't impact the replacement."
The Clean Power Plan was originally written to reduce air pollution from power plants, and the rule has direct economic and health benefits. According to the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF), it could prevent up to 90,000 childhood asthma attacks and save up to $54 billion in public health and climate benefits.
But none of this has impressed Pruitt, who signed a rule to repeal the Clean Power Plan on October 10. Now, Pruitt has made it clear that any replacement the EPA writes will not be based on the best available science.
On the other hand, the government climate report that Pruitt has decided to ignore was based on extensive scientific reports and was meticulously peer-reviewed. It was written by dozens of government and non-government scientists, reviewed by the independent National Academy of Sciences and approved by the National Economic Council.
According to the report, we are currently living in the warmest period in the history of modern civilization, and the last three years have been the hottest yet. The report concludes that rising temperatures have caused "record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes," and that human activities are predominantly to blame.
"This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century," the report reads.
"For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence."
The report leaves little room for doubt. Nevertheless, it appears as though no amount of scientific evidence will convince Pruitt to do his job.
"Facts are stubborn things, and no amount of deception from this administration can ever change them," wrote Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce in a statement.
"Here's another fact: Scott Pruitt is an abject failure not only as an EPA administrator but as a government official, repeatedly proving that it's not the public he serves, but polluters. I'd call on him to take his head out of the sand to escape the rising seas, but that may be just another fact he wishes weren't so."