Obama official would have led EPAs climate science debate—if all agencies took

first_img Charles Watkins/U.S. Department of Energy/Flickr “Steve, the Administrator remains very excited about conducting this exercise,” Jackson told Koonin in a May 2017 email. “He had bounced this and other ideas off others he has worked with for some time and others in the Administration. We would like to proceed further with the red-blue exercise.”Jackson added, “We have determined that the best way to process your paperwork is to compensate you as an ‘administratively determined’ position which is unique in the federal hiring process to EPA. There is no vetting other than OPM paperwork which allows us to have you on the payroll in short order.”The emails were recently released to the Sierra Club under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.It appears as though Jackson was referring to EPA’s special hiring provision offered by the Safe Drinking Water Act. That allows the EPA administrator to bring in up to 30 employees, known as “administratively determined” hires who can circumvent some of the bureaucracy involved in getting government jobs. Past administrations have used the authority, too.Pruitt’s use of the authority attracted widespread attention after The Atlantic reported in April that two aides close to Pruitt got substantial raises using the Safe Drinking Water Act provision, against the White House’s wishes.Pruitt told Fox News that he didn’t know about the raises—which were later revoked. Jackson took responsibility for signing off on the salary bumps (Greenwire, April 10).Under Pruitt, EPA has brought on at least 20 officials—including top political aides—as “administratively determined” hires, according to EPA documents (Greenwire, April 4). EPA’s inspector general is expected to release an audit of Pruitt’s special hires this summer, and congressional Democrats have introduced legislation that would force EPA bosses to notify lawmakers when they use the hiring authority (Greenwire, May 18).Jackson and EPA’s press office did not respond to requests for comment for this story.Koonin never took the job, he told E&E News yesterday in an interview, and he doesn’t expect the Trump team to launch a red team.”I decided not to do that at all,” said Koonin, who is now director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University.After meeting with Koonin last year to discuss Koonin’s Wall Street Journal op-ed about a climate red team, Pruitt called Koonin’s ideas “very exciting” in an interview with Reuters. Koonin later sent Jackson a “prospectus for a Climate Science Red-Blue Exercise,” according to an email dated May 3, 2017. Koonin declined to share a copy of the draft with E&E News, but he said he wanted to look at problems with the U.S. government’s Climate Science Special Report.Many conservatives see a red-team exercise as a vehicle for attacking EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases, the scientific determination that underpins the agency’s climate change regulations.But Koonin said yesterday that he only wanted to sign on to such an initiative if it were a governmentwide effort. “If one is going to do a good red-team exercise, it needs to involve those agencies that have strong equities in climate science, and EPA is not that,” he said.The initiative seems to have lost steam more broadly in the administration. Koonin said that he hasn’t talked to EPA officials about the effort in about six months, and he never talked to White House officials about it. Obama official would have led EPA’s climate science debate—if all agencies took part Read more… Steve Koonin “My general sense is that the executive branch at this point has just decided that they’re not going to poke at the science,” he said.Since Pruitt started speaking publicly about a red-team debate last year, top White House officials have pushed back against the red team. Pruitt—who said last year that it might start in January—hasn’t offered further updates about timing.Environmentalists, climate scientists and others have slammed the idea of a public debate or another Pruitt-led forum to critique mainstream climate science. Many say the scientific peer-review process provides a rigorous evaluation of the science and that launching a debate would unnecessarily emphasize uncertainty.”Instead of taking briefings from and respecting the knowledge of EPA scientists or NASA’s and NOAA’s scientists who are among the world’s experts on climate change, Pruitt wants to bring in a bunch of right-wing nuts to run an alternate facts process,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean energy program.Koonin said, “I don’t think I’m being crazy.” He added, “Why wouldn’t you want to make sure that the government is properly representing the science?”And although he said he’s not concentrating his energy on the executive branch or the government at this point, he’s still pursuing the red-team idea.”It’s something I’m thinking about a lot. Stay tuned.” Pruitt’s team was planning to hire Koonin to convene a military-style “red-team” climate exercise aimed at questioning prevailing climate science. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Originally published by E&E NewsScott Pruitt’s top aide wanted to use special authority to hire a former Obama administration official to scrutinize climate science.The EPA administrator’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, suggested last year that Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist and an Obama Energy Department appointee, could quickly get on EPA’s payroll. Pruitt and his staff have drawn criticism for using special authority to expedite the hires of political appointees, and EPA’s internal watchdog has launched a probe into the matter.center_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email I don’t think I’m being crazy. Why wouldn’t you want to make sure that the government is properly representing the science? Steven Koonin, New York University Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2018. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net. By Robin Bravender, E&E NewsJun. 13, 2018 , 4:05 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img

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