Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has called on the agency to review a report on climate change prepared by 13 government agencies, suggesting that it is politicized.
Pruitt, who has expressed doubts about the role of human activity in climate change, made the comments on a Texas radio show on Aug. 10, according to Politico.
The report emerged out of the National Climate Assessment and has been subjected to peer review by 14 experts in the field.
"Frankly this report ought to be subjected to peer-reviewed, objective-reviewed methodology and evaluation," said Pruitt, Politico reported. "Science should not be politicized. Science is not something that should be just thrown about to try to dictate policy in Washington, D.C."
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Scientists involved in the study agree that their research should not be politicized, but argue that is exactly what Pruitt is doing.
"Science should not be politicized, and I and my colleagues deplore the attempts of politicians to do so, their attempts to pretend as if a thermometer gives us a different answer if we are Democrat or Republican," Katharine Hayhoe, author of the report from Texas Tech University, said.
The report concluded it was "extremely likely" that human activity accounted for more than half of global temperature increases since 1951, according to the Miami Herald.
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"Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans," the National Climate Assessment report declared.
Eric Davidson of the American Geophysical Union suggested that Pruitt may seek to suppress the report.
"Certainly it's a possibility, and if the administration doesn't understand that it's already peer-reviewed, that really is a sign of concern that he may not understand the process," said Davidson, according to Politico. "If he's continuing to question why CO2 is a big deal, that's also very concerning, because CO2 is a big deal … To see those quotes continue to come out is definitely disconcerting."
Kathy Jacobs, who oversaw the National Climate Assessment under President Barack Obama, says it remains unclear what Pruitt's call for a review would mean.
"The question is, will it be reviewed by people who are scientific experts or will it be reviewed by people who have a political agenda?" said Jacobs.
Jacobs also rejected the notion that the report's conclusions were unfounded.
"The implication of [Pruitt's statement] is that it hasn't been linked to the data," she added. "That certainly is not true. [The report] is built on a mountain of evidence."
In June, Pruitt proposed holding a debate among scientists who would be on a "red team" and a "blue team." This drew criticism, with opponents arguing it would politicize the climate change discussion.
However, the EPA administrator reiterated his call for such a debate on Aug. 10: "This debate, this discussion, I think it's good and healthy for the country."