Sunday, March 11, 2018


Citing multiple sources, THE NEW YORK TIMES reports that:

"John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has killed an effort by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to stage public debates challenging climate change science, ... thwarting a plan that had intrigued President Trump even as it set off alarm bells among his top advisers.
It's  his  baby.
The idea of publicly critiquing climate change on the national stage has been a notable theme for Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the E.P.A. For nearly a year he has championed the notion of holding military-style exercises known as red team, blue team debates, possibly to be broadcast live, to question the validity of climate change.

Mr. Pruitt has spoken personally with Mr. Trump about the idea, and the president expressed enthusiasm for it, according to people familiar with the conversations.

But the plan encountered widespread resistance within the administration from Mr. Kelly and other top officials, who regarded it as ill-conceived and politically risky, and when Mr. Pruitt sought to announce it last fall, they weighed in to stop him.

At a mid-December meeting set up by Mr. Kelly’s deputy, Rick Dearborn, to discuss the plan, Mr. Dearborn made it clear that his boss considered the idea “dead,” and not to be discussed further, ...
During that meeting, according to two attendees and a third person briefed on the discussion, administration officials and White House aides were in agreement that Mr. Pruitt’s idea was unwise. Their main concern was that a public debate on science — particularly on an issue as politically charged as the warming of the planet — could become a damaging spectacle, creating an unnecessary distraction from the steps the administration has taken to slash environmental regulations... The E.P.A. did not respond to requests for comment...

Tim Doyle, vice president of policy for the conservative business organization American Council for Capital Formation, said the companies he works with have not expressed any interest in a public forum to challenge climate change science.

“We definitely haven’t heard any of our members supporting the red team, blue team concept,” he said. “There’s been, if anything, radio silence about it.”

The idea for red team, blue team climate debates originated with Steven Koonin, a physicist at New York University... Mr. Koonin in April wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal calling for using the military-style exercise — in which one team attacks and another defends — to test the robustness of climate change science...

Mr. Koonin, in an interview, said he has “no dog in this fight” —... 

Mr. Pruitt planned to announce his red team, blue team debate in early November, according to a news release that was written but never issued. According to four people who have read the draft news release, the debates were to be organized by the E.P.A.’s science advisory board and not include other agencies... on Dec. 13, the White House convened senior officials to discuss the matter...

The takeaway, according to people in the room, was that every office within the White House was opposed to the idea. At one point, Mr. Dearborn said the notion of red team, blue team debates was “dead” and should not be mentioned again. “The chief doesn’t want it,” Mr. Dearborn said, referring to the White House chief of staff, according to one person who attended.

E.P.A. officials were taken aback, the person said... For the moment, even those who have championed the red team, blue team idea like Mr. Koonin are doubtful the debates will happen. “My optimism that we can get this done in a quality way is pretty low at this point,” Mr. Koonin said. “It needs to be a governmentwide exercise and there’s nobody that I know of that has picked up the ball in the White House.”