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EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Says Carbon Dioxide Is Not a ‘Primary Contributor’ to Global Warming

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.

"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see ," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"But we don't know that yet ... We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis," he added. (The exchange begins at 2:10 of the interview)

Pruitt's view is at odds with 99.99 percent of climate scientists, according to peer-reviewed studies.

"The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere," NASA and NOAA said in January.

Pruitt previously served as Oklahoma attorney general, where he rose to prominence as a leader in coordinated efforts by Republican attorneys general to challenge President Barack Obama's regulatory agenda. He sued or took part in legal actions against the EPA 14 times.

Related: Scott Pruitt, Opponent of EPA, Confirmed as Its Director

Democrats and environmentalists opposed Pruitt's nomination to lead the EPA due to his close relationship with fossil fuel companies and his history of casting doubt on climate change. Conservatives and the energy industry have cheered his efforts to push back on what they view as over-regulation under Obama.

Image:Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt
Scott Pruitt testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill Jan. 18 in Washington, DC. Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images

Pruitt maintained on Thursday it's possible to be pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-environment all at once.

"This idea that if you're pro-environment you're anti-energy is just something we've got to change so that attitude is something we're working on very much," he said.

Pruitt also called the Paris Agreement, an international accord aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change, "a bad deal."

"I happen to think the Paris accord, the Paris treaty, or the Paris Agreement, if you will, should have been treated as a treaty, should have gone through senate confirmation. That's a concern," he said.

The Paris Agreement was negotiated by the State Department, and future adherence to U.S. commitments made under Obama will be guided by current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.