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Contradicting settled science, Donald Trump says "nobody really knows" on climate change

Energy Dept. list
Trump team wants names of Energy Dept. staff who worked on climate change 00:40

Donald Trump said again on Sunday that he is “open-minded” about climate change -- but also that “nobody really knows” the truth about the issue, which contradicts the fact that there is near-universal scientific agreement on the issue.

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” moderator Chris Wallace pointed out to Mr. Trump  that in the space of a week he bothmet with former Vice President Al Gore and appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier who has opposed many environmental regulations, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Where, Wallace asked, does Mr. Trump stands on climate change?

“I’m very open-minded. I’m still open-minded,” he said. “Nobody really knows.”

However, there is a near-universal scientific consensus that climate change is a real phenomenon -- despite continued opposition to the notion among primarily Republican politicians. NASA’s website on climate change, for example, notes that approximately 97 percent of publishing climate scientists agree that human activities are very likely responsible for rising temperatures.

His comments came just days after his transition team created a questionnaire with 74 questions for Energy Department officials to identify employees who had been involved in international climate talks over the last five years, as well as employees who have helped develop Obama administration climate policies.

The questionnaire, obtained by CBS News and first reported by Bloomberg News, asks, for example, “Which programs within [the Department of Energy] are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan?”

Mr. Trump’s answer Sunday on the climate change issue is similar to the one he gave in a meeting with the editorial board of The New York Times last month -- after a campaign in which Mr. Trump repeatedly insisted climate change was a “hoax” invented by China.

“I have a very open mind,” he said at the time. “And I’m going to study a lot of the things that happened on it and we’re going to look at it very carefully. But I have an open mind.”

Still, Mr. Trump said his reason for choosing Pruitt -- whom many environmental groups immediately blasted -- was to “speed up the process” for permit approvals and other EPA business.

“If you look at what China’s doing. If you look at what -- I could name country after country,” he said. “You look at what’s happening in Mexico where our people are just -- plants are being built and they don’t wait 10 years to get an approval to build a plant, okay? They build it like the following day or the following week. We can’t let all of these permits that take forever to get stop our jobs.”

As for the Paris Agreement, the landmark international climate agreement that went into effect this fall, Mr. Trump said he is “studying” the agreement -- but that he worries it will put the U.S. at a “competitive disadvantage.” International energy and environment experts worry that Mr. Trump, who said earlier this year that he would “tear up” the Paris deal, could throw the entire agreement into jeopardy.

“Paris, I’m studying,” he said. “I do say this: I don’t want that agreement to put us at a competitive disadvantage with other countries. And as you know, there are different times and different time limits on that agreement. I don’t want that to give China, or other countries signing agreements an advantage over us.”

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