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By Chris White
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt might ask a former Obama-era official to head the agency’s climate debate team, according to a report published Monday.
Steve Koonin, a physicist and former Department of Energy head during the Obama administration, is being considered to lead a “red team, blue team” tactic on climate change, said Myron Ebell, who headed President Donald Trump’s transition team.
“It makes sense because he has positioned himself as an honest broker,” Ebell said. “He doesn’t think that the consensus is what some of the alarmists claim it is, and there’s a lot that needs to be discussed.”
Koonin did not respond to reporter’s questions about the veracity of Ebell’s claims, but added: “I think it would be a good idea if that kind of exercise took place.” He made generally supportive remarks about the red team idea earlier this year, writing in an April editorial earlier that the approach could help deflate the politics surrounding climate change.
“A Red/Blue exercise would have many benefits,” Koonin wrote. “It would produce a traceable public record that would allow the public and decision makers a better understanding of certainties and uncertainties. It would more firmly establish points of agreement and identify urgent research needs.”
The idea essentially pits climate skeptics against academics who argue that human beings are the primary drivers of climate change. Pruitt first announced the idea in June, and has since suggested that the debates should be televised.
Scientists who question climate science frequently lose federal funding. Koonin suggested that prominent climate skeptics such as MIT academic Richard Lindzen and climatologist Judith Curry are among those who have been on the blunt end of the activists’ ire.
President Donald Trump and the EPA enlisted the help of free market group Heartland Institute, which is considered to be the primary academic heavyweight pushing against so-called climate alarmism.
The institute has become a type of boogeyman in liberal circles, mostly because of its skeptical position toward man-made global warming.