Last year, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and notorious climate denier Scott Pruitt made media waves when he suggested a national, public debate on the legitimacy of climate change science.
Ever since, Pruitt has been trumpeting the idea of a "red team, blue team" exercise, which would pit politics against science.
The idea was met with first shock and then criticism by many climate scientists and pro-science advocates, who saw the debate as just another attempt to politicize science and undermine public understanding of climate change.
"The idea of a red team approach is used to test how well forces, or strategy, will perform against an adversary. But climate science is not our adversary," said Sherri Goodman, a former deputy undersecretary of defense under President Bill Clinton and now a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.
Now, The New York Times reports Trump's top advisors also find the idea foolish.
According to The NYT, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and other top officials killed the idea last year because they thought it was unwise and potentially risky.
Apparently, after Pruitt pitched the idea in a December meeting, Kelly's deputy Rick Dearborn said he and his boss consider the idea "dead" and would not be discussing it any further.
"The chief doesn't want it," Mr. Dearborn said, referring to the chief of staff.
But it's not just Kelly who thinks the idea is ill-conceived. According to sources at the meeting, every single office within the White House was opposed to the national debate – mostly because it would draw negative attention to the current rollback of Obama-era climate policies.
EPA officials were reportedly taken aback by the dismissal, especially since NYT sources say President Trump himself has expressed enthusiasm for the idea.
Either NYT's sources were misinformed or Pruitt somehow misinterpreted the blatant refusal, because in January the EPA chief denied the White House had killed his plan.
During questioning from Congress, he said White House opposition to the debates was "untrue" and that he was still planning the debate.
When asked about the meeting, deputy press secretary Raj Shah said: "The Trump Administration will ensure that any climate science review will be conducted through a robust, interagency process, consistent with federal law."
The EPA did not respond to NYT requests for comment.
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