EPA Chief Pruitt Calls For US To "Exit" From Paris Agreement

Scott Pruitt, EPA chief, surrounded by coal miners in Sycamore, Pennsylvania, earlier this week. Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has called for the United States to withdraw from the Paris agreement, because of course he has. Although he himself has no power to enact this himself – that, of course, rests with the President – it’s a depressing sign of the times in an increasingly anti-intellectual America.

Speaking to Fox & Friends last Friday morning, Pruitt claimed once again that the groundbreaking climate change mitigation pact – one that virtually every single other nation on Earth has vowed to adhere to with or without the help of the US – is a “bad deal” for his country.

“Paris is something that we need to really look at closely,” he said. “It’s something we need to exit in my opinion.”

None of this is surprising. Pruitt and his contemporaries have recently doubled-down on their anti-scientific claptrap.

The word “climate change” is forbidden from being used in any capacity in certain government agencies. Scientific funding is at an all-time low and Republican lawmakers are claiming that the planet is warming because human body heat is getting too much for the atmosphere.

Pruitt himself has boasted about how he plans to gut the agency just as Trump has cut its budget by 31 percent. Just a few weeks back, Pruitt actually denied the basic science of carbon dioxide, claiming it doesn’t warm the planet.

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Although Trump has previously called for the US to exit the Paris agreement, he has recently “softened” his stance on this issue, with one government spokesperson saying that they essentially haven’t decided yet. Pruitt, however, is apparently going full steam ahead with his views that the US needs to pull out.

The idea that Paris is a bad deal is obviously ludicrous. Apart from the fact that following it will boost the US economy quite considerably, it will prevent the people of this planet from suffering through a rather disastrous future.

We don’t know if you’ve noticed, but America is attached to the planet, and carbon dioxide doesn’t usually pay attention to border walls. What happens to the world happens to America – so any attempt to essentially save the planet is a good deal for the US.

During the same interview, Pruitt also erroneously suggested “China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.” Actually, they have 2030 emissions curbing targets, which they are working toward now. In particular, China appears to be working incredibly hard to achieve these goals.

He also suggested that the country can use “clean coal”, a low-carbon footprint fuel that actually does not exist.

There are two notes of hope here, though. Firstly, as we have previously pointed out at IFLScience, the entire planet is working to cut their carbon emissions. Imperfectly, for sure, but it is, for the first time in history.

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From superpowers like China to major businesses and even the petrochemical industry, almost everyone agrees that coal and oil are falling out of favor. The economic and environmental costs just are not worth it any more, and market forces are ensuring that renewable sources of energy – in particular, wind and solar – are becoming increasingly cheap.

Secondly, America is actually on track to surpass the emissions cutting targets set out during the Obama administration. Trump may have recently signed an order that rescinded much of these climate change prevention measures, but it’s essentially already too late – thanks to the spread of renewables around plenty of US states and the decline of the coal industry, America is over a decade ahead of schedule in this regard.

So Pruitt can wax lyrical about a new era in environmental deregulation, he can talk about how coal is going to make a comeback, and he can bluster on and on about how the Paris agreement is a bad deal for America.

The reality, however, is that he and others in the Trump administration are on a very lonely island here – and the tides of change are rising around them, and fast.

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