tv White House Wont Say if President Believes in Climate Change CSPAN June 2, 2017 9:12pm-9:53pm EDT
pres. trump: thank you very much, everybody. this is slightly less controversial than yesterday. [laughter] a big purpose to this country. thank you very much. >> at friday's white house briefing, a major topic was the president's recent decision to withdraw from the paris climate agreement. press secretary sounds by service joined by epa administrator scott pruitt. this is 40 minutes. -- press secretary sounds by sir was joined by epa administrator scott pruitt sean spicer was joined by epa administrator scott pruitt. this is 40 minutes.
sec. spicer: good morning, everyone. epa administrator pruitt is here to answer any questions you have involving the paris climate accord. the decision that the president reached yesterday. as always, i ask you to your sec. spicer: for mr.your questions pruitt on topic. i would note that he has a flight to get to, so we will try to keep this relatively short. mr. pruitt: it's good to be with you this afternoon. i want to first begin by saying the president made a very courageous decision yesterday, on behalf of america. he put america's interest first with respect to environmental agreements and international discussions. i appreciate his fortitude, i appreciate his leadership in this matter, the discussion of the last several weeks has been one of thoughtful deliberation. he heard many voices. voices across a wide spectrum of vantage points and the president made a very informed and thoughtful and important decision for the country's
benefit. but we have to remember when it comes to the environmental agreement and international agreements with respect to things like the paris agreement is we have nothing to be apologetic about as a country. we reduced our co2 footprint to levels of the early 1990's, from 2000 to 2014 we reduce the carbon footprint by over 18%. that's been largely accomplished through innovation and technology, not government mandates. when you look at issues like this, we are leading with action and not words. i also want to say that exiting paris did not mean disengagement. in fact, the president said yesterday that paris represents a bad deal for this country and doesn't mean that we are not going to continue the discussion. to export innovation, to export technology to the rest of the world to demonstrate how we do , it better here is a very important message to send. he indicated he will either reenter paris or engage in discussion around a new deal with a commitment to putting america first. the president said he is going
to put the interests of american citizens that they had of this -- ahead of this administration. that is in trade policy, national security, border security, rightsizing washington, d.c., and he did that with respect to the decision yesterday on paris. with that, we can answer any questions you might have read i -- you might have. i don't know your needs, so you will have to forgive me if i just went to you. >> just hoping you can clear this up once and for all. yes or no, does the president believe that climate change is real and a threat to the united states? mr. pruitt: it's interesting about all the discussions we've had for the past several weeks have been focused on one singular issue. is paris good or not for this country? that's the discussions i've had with the president. that's been my focus. the focus remained on whether paris put us at a disadvantage, and it did. it put us at an economic disadvantage. you may not know this, but paris set targets at 26% to 28%, the
entire agenda of the previous administration, we still felt -- fell 40% short of those targets. it was a failed deal to begin with, and even if all the targets were met by all nations across the globe, the only reduced the temperature by less than two cents of one degree. that is something that the president focused upon with respect to how it impacted us economically, and whether there were good environmental objectives that were achieved as a result of paris. his decision was no. that was the extent of our discussions. >> 2/10 of 1% of the reciting, the m.i.t. scientist who published the report says trump "badly misunderstood the findings of that report," and that in fact, if we take no action, devastating -- temperatures could rise. specifically, what other science that he relied on? mr. pruitt: there were other studies published at the time, the m.i.t. study was something
that as you indicated showed 2/10 of one degree and they didn't have a corner on the market as far as studies on that time. there were many at that we can point. provide those to you. what's clear about paris is if you go back and look at the criticism that was being levied against the paris agreement, it wasn't just the folks in this country that wanted to be ratified. the environmental left was very critical of paris. in fact, james hansen is an individual who said at the time it was a fake and a fraud and the general counsel of the sierra club said the same thing. if you go back and read the media accounts, was much criticism largely because it did not hold nations like china and india accountable. as you know, china did not have to take any steps of compliance until about 2030, india had no obligations until $2.5 trillion of aid was provided and russia , when they set their targets, they set 1990 as the baseline
, which allowed them to continue emitting more co2. in this country, we had to have a 26% to 28% reduction in greenhouse gases, which represented the clean power plan and the entire climate action agenda of the entire of -- the past administration. toi would like to go back the first question that was asked that you didn't answer. does the president believe that climate change is a hoax? that is something he said in the campaign. a few days ago he refused to , answer. mr. pruitt: i did answer the question, because i said the discussions the president and i have had over the past several weeks have an focused on one key issue, is paris good or bad for this country? the president and i focused our attention is there, and he determined it was bad for this country. it hurt us economically, didn't achieve good environmental outcomes and he made the decision to reject the paris deal. yes, sir. >> thank you. given the fact that you and
other administration officials haven't been able to outline the president's views on climate change, why should other countries believe that the president wants to negotiate a new deal in good faith? mr. pruitt: as i indicated in my comments yesterday, and the president indicated in his speech, this administration, and the country as a whole, we have taken significant steps to reduce co2 footprint to levels before the what you want here is 1990's. how we achieve that, largely because of technology, hydraulic fracturing, and horizontal drilling, that has allowed the generation of electricity. you will not hear that from the environmental left. we need to export clean coal technology. we need to export technology in natural gas to those around the globe, and yeah china, and help -- india andom us china, and help them learn from us on what we've done to achieve good outcomes. we have led with action, not words. paris at its core was in much of words committed to very minimal environmental benefit. and it costs this country of
substantial disadvantage. >> does the administrative believe that any additional deal, whether a revised -- mr. pruitt: i missed the first part of the question. >> does the administration believe that any deal, whether it is a revised paris agreement, or other carbon emissions deal needs congressional approval either is a treaty or some other form? mr. pruitt: i think it is clear with respect to the paris agreement that there are the president express concerns yesterday and i have similar concerns, that it should have been submitted to the u.s. senate for ratification. i think it depends on the nature deal. if you are talking about exporting innovation and technology to the rest of the globe, i would say not. i would say it's not something that needs to be submitted to the u.s. senate here it i would say however, if you are setting targets, setting emissions
targets that are enforceable domestically through regulation or statute, then very much so the boys of american citizens needs to be heard through the ratification process. >> thank you. obviously, a lot of people in the white house are not willing to answer this question of what the president's view is on climate change. let's talk about your personal views. in march, you said there is tremendous disagreement about the degree of human impact. you would not agree that we are the primary contributor to global warming. would you agree that human activity contributes all? mr. pruitt: i don't know if you guys caught my confirmation process or not, but it's a very intense process, but that confirmation process, indicated that in fact, the warming is occurring, that human activity contributes to it in some manner. measuring with precision from my perspective the degree of human contribution is very challenging. but it still begs the question, what do we do about it? does it pose an existential
threat as some say? ,people have called me a climate skeptic or denier. i don't know what it means to deny the climate. i would say they are climate exaggerators. by bret stephens in "the new york times," -- i will read the quote. that the modest 0.8 degrees celsius warming of their it has occurred since 1980 -- 1880, much else has passed as accepted fact is really a matter of probability. that's especially true of the sophisticated infallible models and simulations that scientists attempted fewer to the climate future. to say that this is to deny science isn't to deny honesty. what the american people deserve is a debate, objective
transparent discussion about , this issue. and what paris represents is an international agreement to put this country at a disadvantage with very little benefit, environmentally, across the board. >> may i ask a follow-up question? why is the arctic ice shelf melting? why are the sea levels rising? why are the hottest temperatures that we've seen on record -- mr. pruitt: we've been in hiatus since the late 1990's. >> but when nasa says that 95% of the experts in this area around the world believe the earth is warming, and you are up there throwing out information that says, well, maybe this is exaggerated, when you talk about climate exaggerators, it seems to a lot of people around the world that you and the president are just denying reality, and the reality is that climate change is happening and it is a significant threat to the planet.
mr. pruitt: let me say this. i set it in the confirmation process, and i said it yesterday. we have done a tremendous amount as a country to achieve reductions in co2. we've done that through technology and innovation. we will continue to do that. we will continue to stay engaged. we are part, as you know, of the fccc,,fter the state -- un a process that encourages voices internationally, in countries across the globe, and we are going to stay engaged and try to work new agreements and achieve outcomes that put americans interests first. this is not a message to anyone in the world that america should be apologetic about their co2 position, we are making tremendous advantage, we're just not going to a greater -- to agree to a framework and agreements that put us at an economic disadvantage. it hurt to citizens across this country. >> we are worried you're putting your head in the sand. mr. pruitt: there's no evidence of that.
administrator.r. your fellow sooner, senator inhofe, said that while he has full confidence in the president in this, he's very nervous about lower-level career government employees in the epa and state executing actually what is needed to exit the paris -- execute the paris climate accord. as the administrator of the epa, what do you say? mr. pruitt: what's important to the president said unequivocally yesterday, that the target set in paris are not enforceable and they're not going to be complied with. the green climate where the united states committed $3 billion in additional funding is not going to continue. that is unequivocally the case and that's going to be immediate. there are discussions that are ongoing with the justice department and the steps we will be taking to execute the withdrawal.
that won't be happening in the next several weeks. as far as the targets are concerned, as far as the green climate science, it's immediate and beer. -- and clear. made it veryeaders clear the deal cannot be renegotiated.how does the president renegotiate a deal when the other parties are not willing to? mr. pruitt: he indicated whether it is part of the paris framework or a new deal, it is either approach. >> they are not going to sit down at the table with him. mr. pruitt: well that's up to them, isn't it? the united states is the united states and we are leading with respect to co2 reduction and we've made tremendous progress. if nations around the globe want to seek to learn from us on what we're doing to reduce our co2 footprint, we're going to share that with them, and that's something that should occur and will occur in the future. we will reach out and reciprocate with nations who seek to achieve that. >> just a quick follow-up. you are the epa administrator.
shouldn't you be able to tell the american people whether or not the president thinks climate change is a hoax? where does he stand? mr. pruitt: as i indicated several times there's enough to , deal with with respect to the paris agreement and making an informed decision about this important issue, that's what the focus has been over the last several weeks, and i have answered the question of couple times. yes, sir. this gentleman right here. >> thank you. isn't it of concern that the united states has broken a promise to 190 countries and the president has not addressed that particular point? second, you have several times raised the lowering of co2 levels, isn't the reason for four -- for that because of the blocking of smokestacks, that now the administration is real outing? -- is allowing? mr. pruitt: we reduced our co2 through innovation and technology not the least of which is hydraulic fracking and drilling.
>> isn't it of concern that we broke a promise to 190 countries and how does that help our credibility? mr. pruitt: it was a promise that was enforceable and was going to obligate this country, then it should have been ratified as a treaty. the exposure here to us domestically was 26% to 28% target, we are part of an international agreement, and there are provisions in the clean air act that actually allow for lawsuits to be filed domestically to compel regulation to meet those kinds of percentages. this is as much about houses -- a constitutional and legal concern as anything else. the president dealt decisively with that. again, the important thing here is that it put us at economic disadvantage. the world applauded when we joined paris and you know why? , they applauded because they knew it was going to this country at an economic disadvantage. the reason european leaders want us to stay in is because they know it will shackle our economy , that we are leading the world in respect our co2 reductions. that's all i got, got to head to the airport.
sec. spicer: thank you. >> why do you celebrate at a french restaurant last night? sec. spicer: thanks. earlier this morning, may jobs report was released showing that americans seeking jobs are having more success finding them than any point in the last 16 years. there is a lot of positive signs coming out of the job market. over 600,000 private sector jobs have been added since the president took office. mickey key unemployment rate, giving a broader look at unemployment and underemployment, fell a full percentage point. long-term unemployment is down by 187,000 since the president took office and america's miners and drillers are getting back to work, with that sector showing job growth for the straight seventh month. the president is not going to stop until every american who wants to work can find meaningful employment.
that's when we are working tirelessly on policies that will keep the economy growing, with a tax plan that will leave more money in the pockets of hard-working americans, making it easier for businesses to and infrastructure initiative that will generate investment and put americans back to work rebuilding our nation's crumbling roads and bridges, repealing and replacing the job selling obamacare with a system that encourages competition and drive prices down, and a systematic regulatory reform to reduce unnecessary burdens on manufacturing and other key industries aiming for the most far-reaching rollbacks since the reagan years. you can expect the president's to be focusing even more on jobs this month and holding events in washington and outside, pushing his progrowth pro-jobs agenda. later this afternoon, the president will be signing to wo bills that help protect those who protect us, our nation's veterans and public safety officers. first, the public safety safety
officers benefit improvement act of 2017, which was cosponsored by senator judiciary committee chairman chuck grassley of iowa and senator gillibrand of new york. it was unanimously passed by the senate last month and will reduce the acceptable backlog of families awaiting approval of survivor benefits and public safety officers that were killed in the light of duty. the second is the american lung aw enforcement heroes act. it also unanimously passed the senate. it will assist state and local law enforcement and adding veterans to their forces by prioritizing the department of justice funding to law enforcement agencies that used to hire veterans. it's critical we support our veterans and the loved ones of those who gave their lives protecting our communities. also in washington today, betsy devos visited the eagle public charter school this morning to
show the administration's support for the inclusive school environments and celebrate the launch of the department of education's new individuals with disabilities act. secretary tillerson met this morning with foreign ministers of brazil and is departing for sydney, australia this afternoon where he will join defense secretary matus to participate in the 2017 australia united states ministerial consultations. prior to his arrival in australia, secretary matus will deliver remarks and meet with regional allies and counterparts to discuss security issues. with that, i'll take a few questions. >> i want to ask about the push for the travel ban to the u.s. supreme court. is it fair to say that one of the reasons the president wants to keep this going is now we have a full court impaneled, but also because it gives the white house the chance to build up some momentum, especially if you look back yesterday?
it would appear his base was very pleased with what the president decided to do. is that part of the calculus? and i would also like to ask about the xl pipeline, can we get an update on what's happening with that in terms of jobs and development? sec. spicer: i think what we said with respect to the executive order in question has been fairly consistent sensitive implementation and the first court action. last night, we asked the supreme court to hear this important case, and are confident that the president's executive orders are well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism. the president is not required to admit people from countries who sponsor or shelter terrorism and until he determines they are properly vetted and do not pose a risk to the u.s., it is consistent with what would we have done. are you talking about in terms of production? i don't have that. >> you asked about the president's personal views on climate change. not had a chance to
have a conversation with him. what does the president actually believe on climate change? sec. spicer: i have not had an opportunity to have that discussion. >> don't the american people deserve to know what the president believes? sec. spicer: but the president is focused on is making sure that we have clean water, clean air, and making sure we have the best deal for the american workers. >> quick question for you related to the paris climate agreement. why is it so important to reduce carbon emissions and export clean energy technology? sec. spicer: i think he understands the importance of clean air and clean water, and a healthy environment, but also doing so in a way that provides the american workers in our economy a way to grow. administrator pruitt pointed
out, we got a lot of technology that we can export to other countries and help them. >> a question as relates to climate change, a very simple definition of climate change is a change in the earth's weather pattern. the epa administrator said today that he does feel there is some value to the studies that say the earth is warming somewhat. does the president share the epa administrator's thoughts on this topic? and why is the administration sort of backing away from using the word climate change? sec. spicer: i have not had an opportunity to specifically talk to the president about that. >> yesterday the president painted a pretty dire picture of the u.s. economy. if the u.s. were to stay in. and yet dozens of top ceos of american corporations lobbied the president in order to stay in the paris accord. what with the president argued this is bad for the economy if all of these business leaders
are saying we need to do this? is the president right and all of them are wrong? sec. spicer: the president took input from a lot of individuals and there were other sectors and were very concerned about the implementation of it. and there were some companies and some organizations that are among those you mentioned that while they may be wanted to stay in, also expressed concerns about the target levels. at the end of the day, the president's number one priority is to get the best deal for the american people. this is who they elected last year and i think one of the things we have got to remember is the president was very clear the campaign trail about his position on this. he was also clear he was going to negotiate the best deal for the american people. if you look at all of the deal s that we have, whether they are trade deals or paris, the president has made it very clear he's committed to getting the best deal for america and americans manufacturers. >> who's going to replace elon musk and bob eiger? sec. spicer: i don't know. >> the president's critics are
claiming that falling out of the accord will lift china as a global leader. do you agree with that sentiment? what is the white house have to say about that? sec. spicer: i think part of the reason the president that it was a bad deal yesterday it was because countries, including china, were not making substantial progress in reducing their carbon footprint. they weren't doing enough in and america was carrying the weight. i think by negotiating a better deal, hopefully we get a better result for our country in the world. >> yesterday the president of france delivered a sharply worded speech in english, attacking the president on the climate change decision, saying it's bad for all of our children and he specifically called on scientists to come and move to france. what is the president's response? sec. spicer: i think the president has made it clear since day one that his job is to protect the interest of this
country and our citizens. as he said yesterday, he is was elected to represent pittsburgh, not paris. >> "washington post," reported the administration is considering returning these properties in maryland and new york to russia. what is the reason for that? what would the white house have to see before giving them back? sec. spicer: the state department issued comments on that earlier saying quote the u.s. and russian average no agreement -- have reached no agreement. the state department has been very clear where we stand on that. >> has the president been following the kelly griffin meltdown and does he want a personal apology? does the family want personal apology from kathy griffin? sec. spicer: the president, the first lady, and secret service have all made it very clear their view on those thoughts. >> there's been a matter of curiosity for a couple of days
now, is the white house going to evoke executive privilege? to prevent james comey from testifying? sec. spicer: the committee hearing was just noticed. i think obviously, it's got to be reviewed. >> that's not a no. sec. spicer: my understanding is the date for that hearing was just set. i have not spoken to counsel yet. i don't know what -- how they are going to respond. >> one on the tax bill in one on the debt ceiling. in the rose garden, the president said something about our tax bill moving along very well. we heard something about a new being drafted. is that what he was talking about? what tax bill is he referring to? sec. spicer: as you know, the director was here a couple of weeks ago lane out the broad principles of what they want to see legislation. they had several discussions, both in the house and the senate, bipartisan and industry
groups and i think that the reception the president's initiative has received in both chambers is moving along very well with leadership in rank-and-file members. >> on the debt ceiling, we been getting mixed messages from and administration official weather whether you like that bill or any wrestling with the -- -- can you reveal whether presidents feeling is? sec. spicer: this is one we're going to work with congress on, we are not there yet, it is in something our team will continue to work with them. >> when we heard the administrator talk about position on the paris climate accord, he said it's not a signal that the u.s. wants this a gauge -- once to disengage on climate policy, so what are the steps in administration is taking to engage internationally in climate, and secondly, climate has been a key part of cooperation between the u.s. and china.
will you try to replace a very important intersection of interest with something else? will you continue to do some technological cooperation? any thoughts on that? sec. spicer: this is a decision that was just made yesterday afternoon and i think the president is going to gauge both with domestic stakeholders he mentioned in the speech yesterday. he looks forward to talking about parties way forward and reasonable ways in which we can engage in that. he obviously will continue to talk to world leaders, but that's a process that has to evolve. >> and the relationship with china as a point of cooperation? have you given some thought as to how you will manage? the model is you manage tensions with china by having areas of cooperation. other areas the white house there are working on now with china, do you envision other cooperations? sec. spicer: the relationship the president trump has established has been quite remarkable.
he has talked about it very clearly. it's a model in which they will continue to build their relationship and talk about issues, whether it's this or north korea or other areas come , economic areas. i think the great thing about this issue is the relationship the president has and continues to build with president xi is one that will allow them to move forward. >> in a recent statement by senator mccain, he said that vladimir putin is the greatest threat to the united states security other than isis. the president had any conversation with you about that? sec. spicer: he has not. heard the secretary wants once the -- say he the debt ceiling raised. wants spending cuts.
what is the in administration willing to take as far as spending cuts? sec. spicer: i think that is a conversation that our team is going to have with congressional leaders and other stakeholders, the freedom caucus and other members about with what it -- is going to take. there's bipartisan recognition that we need to get that done. so secretary mnuchin and other members of the team will work to figure out what it takes to get it done. is theyou tell me, how president dealing with the fact that there are several mayors, many mayors from a bipartisan group, the u.s. conference of mayors who are against the withdrawal? how does the president move forward about what he is saying about making coal great again and walking away from the economics of clean energy? and walking out of paris when you have mayors who are saying we're going to continue with the
paris agreement. sec. spicer: if a mayor or governor wants to enact on a policy on a range of issues, they are accountable to their own voters and that is what they should do. we believe in states rights and so if any locality or municipality or state wants to an active policy that their voters or citizens believe in, that's what they should do. but i will say that with respect to elected officials, there's a large contingent of officials at every level of government who were very pleased with the president's decision yesterday and applauded him. >> republican and democratic mayors are very upset. sec. spicer: we have bipartisan support of the accord. >> there are numbers of reports -- have been found at the museum. also, there were very negative
word spray-painted over lebron james's home. what is the president saying as people are saying over the last 130 plus days there is a divide that perpetuated from this white house. sec. spicer: i would respectfully disagree with the premise of that. i think we need to denounce hate in any form, in any act and this president made it clear from election night to his inauguration that he wants to unite this country and move forward. >> did rex tillerson endorse withdrawn from the paris climate agreement? sec. spicer: i'm not privy to the conversations individuals have with the president. >> he wasn't at the announcement yesterday? sec. spicer: i don't know. >> can you clarify the nature of conversations jared kushner had with russian officials? sec. spicer: we are focused on the president's agenda going forward all questions will be referred to outside counsel. >> how can you not not answer
questions when the president tweets about it? sec. spicer: all questions on this matter will be referred to outside counsel. >> nobody's actually responding to any of those questions. two things, do you have any update on the search for the fbi director? sec. spicer: as i mentioned yesterday, the president continues to meet with candidate. when we have an update, we will let you know. >> you said you hadn't talked to the president about whether he still believes the climate change is a hoax. would it be possible for you to have that conversation and then report back to us at the next briefing? sec. spicer: if i can. does it mean that members of his administration made the decision to withdraw from the paris accord without knowing where the president stands, without knowing whether or not
he thinks climate change is real? sec. spicer: individuals gave the president advice and you he made a decision on what was best for the country and our people on the merits of the agreement. >> we know the president heard a lot of points of view on both sides of the issue and there was maybe a full suppression -- maybe a false impression that it was a difficult decision and he was wavering. in the end, yesterday, he was emphatic about getting out of the agreement. in the end, was this an easy decision or a close decision? sec. spicer: i honestly don't know. the president is the ultimate decider and when he comes to make a decision and get the information that is required, and let us know that he has a decision and he announces. >> there is a lot of talk about renegotiation. why renegotiate? the united states has the authority to simply reduce the targets. sec. spicer: the president believes it's in our country's best interest to renegotiate the deal. >> the president signed a waiver
yesterday the delayed a campaign promise to remove [inaudible] how confident can his supporters be the this is a campaign promise he is going to keep? sec. spicer: when the president signed a waiver and delayed moving the embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem, no one should consider this that to be a retreat from the president's from support for israel and for u.s. israel he relationship. the president made this decision to maximize the chance of successfully negotiating a deal between israel and the palestinians, fulfilling a solemn obligation to defend america's national security interest, but as he repeatedly stated, the question is not if that move happens, but when. >> the campaign to do it on day one. is there time frame? sec. spicer: his ultimate goal is to get peace, it's not if, it is a when. >> following up on caitlin's question, is it still the
administration's position that jared kushner was in the meeting with the russian as a representative of the transition? sec. spicer: we are focused on the president's agenda and going forward all questions on these matters will be referred to outside counsel. >> does the president still have confidence in jared kushner? sec. spicer: absolutely. >> one of the ethics waivers of the white house. did thehat aimed at -- white house have two indications -- steve bannon's medications with breitbart in mind? sec. spicer: there's two pieces. one is, remember, this didn't have to do with the law or regulations, it had to do with
president's pledge. so he is the ultimate decider on that. this is not with respect to a law or regulation. what we discovered was that several individuals on staff had previously worked for media organizations and in order to continue having those discussions and advancing the president's agenda and priorities, it was important to make sure that all individuals have the opportunity to be able to speak to the media about what the president was doing to make the country stronger. for what it's worth today happens to be national leave work early day. i hope you all get a chance to participate, maybe go home and if you participated in national doughnut day. with that, i hope you take advantage of that and have a great weekend. thank you. >> are you going home early? [laughter]
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national -- nancy pelosi talked about her opposition to during the climate accord. her news conference is 30 minutes. ms. pelosi: good morning, everyone. today, some of us are wearing orange to observe that on january 21, 2013, a high school student from the southside of chicago marched in president parade second inaugural to read one week later, he was shot and killed in chicago. soon after, childhood friends commemorated her life by wearing or range. theyho