The White House thought Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt was going rogue last year when he was planning an exercise to formally challenge climate change science.
Mike Catanzaro, President Trump’s top energy adviser, sent an email in July 2017 to Samantha Dravis, the head of the EPA’s policy office, expressing concerns.
“There are a lot of press reports about EPA’s planning on this. None of it is being run by us,” Catanzaro wrote in the email obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and first reported Monday by Climatewire.
“This seems to be getting out of control,” Catanzaro said.
Catanzaro asked for a meeting with EPA officials and John Moran, an associate White House counsel.
Pruitt had for much of last year been planning a “red team-blue team” exercise on climate change science. The idea, adapted from military planning, would feature a debate between two sets of scientists, one assigned to challenge mainstream climate science and other to defend it.
Pruitt once floated the idea to host a series of televised debates on the matter.
The idea had widespread support among skeptics of the scientific consensus that the climate is changing primarily due to greenhouse gases emitted from human activity like burning fossil fuels.
Records previously released under FOIA show that the EPA had been working on a press release draft to announce the exercise, and planned to release it in November 2017, to coincide with and challenge the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a government-wide report on climate change.
But as Catanzaro’s email shows, the White House was highly skeptical of the idea.
White House chief of staff John Kelly ended up making the call to shut the process down in December, after a meeting among EPA and White House officials, The New York Times reported.
The EPA did not respond to a request for comment Monday.