President Trump’s Cabinet nominees have delivered a similar refrain on climate change that could head off criticisms of the administration on the issue.
At Senate confirmation hearings in recent days, the nominees have all said that the climate is changing, and that human activity is a factor. But they say that the extent of human influence is up for study and debate, as is the discussion of what policy prescriptions might be required.
The new refrain makes it difficult for environmentalists and Democrats to label Trump’s staffers “climate deniers,” a term they’ve used to attack politicians skeptical of climate science.
It also leaves the Trump administration with plenty of room to maneuver. None of the nominees have endorsed any specific climate policies, and Trump is still expected to reverse most of Obama’s climate agenda.
“I think it’s extremely smart, and it denies the ‘denier’ label,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign.
“It’s very hard for the left to mount opposition to certain policies if you continue to say, ‘we don’t think it’s a hoax,’ ” he continued.
“It comes off as well-thought-out, because it takes some of the momentum out of the climate change folks, but also, it doesn’t lock you into any specific position as an administration.”