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The “scientists” who support Trump’s choice to run the EPA are creationists with opaque funding sources

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
These are not the kind of scientists who believe in climate science
By Zoë Schlanger
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In the middle of a tense confirmation hearing that cast doubt on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s grasp of environmental health—for example, his lack of understanding that there is no safe amount of lead that can be taken into a child’s body—and highlighted his unwillingness to acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity is the primary driver of climate change—“I believe it is caused by human activity in some manner. I believe the ability to measure with precision is subject to more debate”—Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming produced a letter from “a list of scientists” that endorsed Pruitt for US Environmental Protection Agency chief and praised him to the highest degree.

The letter, which can be read here, comes from the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, an evangelical organization with a tangled web of corporate sponsors, including by foundations reportedly funded by the US oil billionaire Koch brothers.

The Cornwall Alliance believes that American environmentalism is a “native evil,” and “one of the greatest threats to society and the church today.” Its founder, Calvin Beisner, holds a PhD in Scottish History and has called environmentalism “the greatest threat to Western civilization,” comparing it to jihad.

The Cornwall Alliance does not disclose its funding, but it is a project of the James Partnership, which reported that half its income in 2012 came through the Donors Trust, a funding group Mother Jones described as the “dark money ATM” of the conservative right. Among its major contributors? Foundations funded and controlled by the Koch brothers, Mother Jones reported.

The Cornwall Alliance letter introduced in the hearing by Barrasso is indeed signed by some people with scientific and advanced degrees, though in attaching their name to it, they are stating that the scientific consensus on climate change is “exaggerated,” as described in the letter.

The letter praises Pruitt for his role as an evangelical Christian and climate denier:

Some radical environmentalists and religious activists oppose Mr. Pruitt because he does not embrace their exaggerated fears of human-induced global warming—fears that go well beyond the empirical evidence crucial to genuine science—or their antipathy to the development of the abundant, reliable, affordable energy indispensable to lifting and keeping whole societies out of poverty and the disease and premature death that invariably accompany it.

The website for the Cornwall Alliance also makes no bones about how it feels on climate change, either: “Was July the “Hottest Month on Record”? Who Cares?” reads one banner on the site.

Another: “Sin, Deception, and the Corruption of Science: A Look at the So-Called Climate Crisis”

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