The ever-green New York Times is trying to report that the climate change Red Team exercise proposed by EPA Administrator Pruitt is dead. I say “trying” because if you read their long article carefully it may not be so. What is really going on is a bit of a political struggle within the Trump Administration. What eventually happens remains to be seen.
Pruitt has been talking about the Red Team exercise for a long time now. The idea is to have an official public debate over climate science, between alarmists and skeptics. As Pruitt repeatedly says, Americans have a right to know about this deep debate, which was carefully hidden from view by the Obama Administration.
According to the NYT, the Trump White House chief of staff is trying to stop the Red Team exercise. Here is the NYT article’s very first sentence. While long it clearly says the effort is killed:
“John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has killed an effort by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to stage public debates challenging climate change science, according to three people familiar with the deliberations, thwarting a plan that had intrigued President Trump even as it set off alarm bells among his top advisers.”
My take is that this is an election year and the Trumpers are focused on showing in November that they have helped, not hurt, the Republican Party. That was the focus of the State of the Union speech.
“Don’t rock the boat in an election year” is a political maxim and a Red Team debate would certainly rock a lot of political boats. But the climate change issue is far too important to sweep under the political rug.
In fact the NYT piece mentions toward the very end that Pruitt may well be moving ahead with the exercise. They say this:
“In the weeks since that meeting, however, Mr. Pruitt said the red team, blue team debates were still under consideration. In January, he told Congress that a report in E & E News, a news organization focusing on energy and the environment that first reported that the White House had killed the plan, was false. White House opposition to the debates was “untrue,” he said under questioning by a senator.”
What they fail to mention is that Pruitt and the EPA do not answer to the President. EPA is what is called an “independent agency,” like the Federal Reserve. It is not part of the Trump Cabinet and it does not take orders from the White House chief of staff. So Pruitt can, and may well, go ahead with the Red Team exercise. He might even wait until after the November elections.
One wonders how a journalist writing this last paragraph could have written the first. Clearly the real story is about the disagreement between Pruitt and Kelly. Maybe the NYT “buried the lead” because they preferred the possibly false story that the Red Team is dead.
The NYT article also talks about having to involve the whole range of federal science agencies in a Red Team exercise, which would certainly then fall under the White House jurisdiction. But in reality EPA is the only federal agency that is truly under the climate change gun.
Pruitt is facing the Obama-era EPA false finding that CO2 endangers our health and welfare. This so-called “endangerment finding” requires him to regulate CO2 as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, which it most certainly is not. This forced false move is by far the biggest thing going on at EPA. No other federal agency is facing anything remotely like this, so it makes perfect sense if EPA alone runs the Red Team exercise.
In fact the NYT acknowledges this extreme situation, but in passing as usual. They say this of the endangerment finding and the Red Team:
“That finding is the legal backbone for almost all federal climate policy and requires the government to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in some manner. A government critique of climate science could lay the groundwork for challenging the endangerment finding in court.”
So all things considered it would make perfect sense if EPA Administrator Pruitt told White House chief of staff Kelly “You’re not the boss of me” and went ahead with the Red Team exercise. Let’s hope that he does, even if it means waiting until after the November elections. Climate change alarmism is far too dangerous to simply ignore on political grounds.