U.S. environmental group the Sierra Club has asked the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general to investigate whether the agency's head, Scott Pruitt, violated internal policies when he said he did not believe carbon dioxide was a major contributor to climate change, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Lawyers for the Sierra Club wrote to the EPA's Office of Inspector General on Tuesday asking the independent watchdog to check whether Pruitt violated the EPA's 2012 Scientific Integrity Policy when he told a CNBC interviewer on March 9, "I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."
The request ramps up tension between the U.S. environmental movement and the administration of President Donald Trump, who has called global warming a hoax meant to weaken the U.S. economy and has packed his Cabinet with people who question the science of climate change.
An overwhelming majority of scientists think that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to global climate change, triggering sea level rise, droughts and more frequent violent storms.
"It's pretty unprecedented to have the head of the EPA contradicting basic scientific facts," Sierra Club Senior Attorney Elena Saxonhouse told Reuters on Wednesday.
In the letter, the Sierra Club's lawyers said Pruitt's comments contradicted a "comprehensive review" of scientific research on climate change and appeared to be politically motivated.
Read more at U.S. Group Sierra Club Seeks Probe of EPA's Pruitt over CO2 Comments