Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday wouldn’t say if he views the global climate crisis as a threat to the United States.
Pence repeatedly dodged when asked multiple times on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether the human-induced crisis is a threat to the country, telling host Jake Tapper: “Well, what I will tell you is that we’ll always follow the science on that in this administration.”
There is near universal consensus in the scientific community that the global climate emergency is man made. President Donald Trump has repeatedly made false claims about climate change.
“But what we won’t do, and the clean power plan was all about that, was hamstringing energy in this country, raising the cost of utility rates for working families across this country,” Pence said Sunday.
When pressed again on whether he believes the climate crisis is a threat, Pence said, “I think the answer to that is going to be based upon the science.”
“Well the science says yes,” Tapper said. “I’m asking you what you think.”
“Well, there’s many in the science that debate that,” Pence said.
Tapper responded, “The science community in your own administration – at (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), at the (Director of National Intelligence) – they all say it’s a threat. But you won’t, for some reason.”
Pence said, “What we’ve said is that we are not going to raise utility rates.”
The Trump administration rolled back last week an Obama-era plan that limited coal-fired power plant emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency said states can set their own carbon emissions standards for coal-fired power plants – a rule that the agency itself says could result in 1,400 more premature deaths by 2030 than the Obama-era plan it will replace.
The Obama Clean Power Plan was set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to the climate crisis, by up to 32% compared to 2005 levels by the same year.
“So you don’t think it’s a threat,” Tapper said.
“I think we’re making great progress reducing carbon emissions,” Pence said. “America has the cleanest air and water in the world. We’ll continue to use market forces—”
“That’s not true,” Tapper said. “We don’t have the cleanest air and water in the world. We don’t.”
The US ranks 10th in the world for air quality and 83rd for air pollution, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index. It ranks 29th for water and sanitation, according to the index, which is produced by Yale University and Columbia University.
The US is tied for first place with nine other countries for the quality of drinking water, according to the index.
“But we’re making progress on reducing carbon emissions,” Pence said, adding, “We’re doing it through technology, through natural gas, through continuing to support, as our administration has – “
Tapper responded, “You just rolled back all these clean–”
“Turn back to nuclear energy, clean energy,” Pence continued. “The answer though is not to raise the utility rates of millions of utility rate payers.”
CNN’s Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.