WASHINGTON • The United States Environmental Protection Agency is in the early stages of launching a debate about climate change that could air on television - challenging scientists to prove the widespread view that global warming is a serious threat, the head of the agency said.
The move comes as the administration of President Donald Trump seeks to roll back a slew of Obama-era regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, and begins a withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement - a global pact to stem planetary warming through emissions cuts.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said: "There are lots of questions that have not been asked and answered (about climate change).
"Who better to do that than a group of scientists... getting together and having a robust discussion for all the world to see."
He did not, however, explain how the scientists would be chosen.
Asked if he thought the debate should be televised, Mr Pruitt said: "I think so. I think so. I mean, I don't know yet, but you want this to be open to the world. You want this to be on full display. I think the American people would be very interested in consuming that. I think they deserve it."
While acknowledging that the planet is warming, Mr Pruitt said he questions the gravity of the problem and the need for regulations that require companies to take costly measures to reduce their carbon footprint.
Since taking up his role at EPA, he has emerged as one of the more prolific Trump Cabinet appointees, taking steps to undo more than two dozen regulations and influencing Mr Trump's decision to pull the US from the Paris climate change deal, which was agreed by nearly 200 countries in 2015.
Mr Pruitt said the debate is not necessarily aimed at undermining the 2009 "endangerment finding", the scientific determination that carbon dioxide harms human health. It formed the basis for the Obama administration's regulation of greenhouse gases.
Mr Pruitt added that there may be a legal basis to challenge the finding but would prefer Congress weigh in on the matter.