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A regional public media collaboration serving the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

White House Recruiting Climate Skeptics For New Working Group

Photo of refinery.
Brian Albers / KUER
A refinery in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Trump administration is assembling a panel to take a second look at recent federal climate change reports.

According to news reports, the ad-hoc group is spearheaded by William Happer, a former physics professor at Princeton University who disagrees with the scientific consensus that climate change is real and human-caused.

The list of people who have been contacted to join the group include a scientist who called climate change believers a “cult,” as well as other scientists with more mainstream beliefs.

The group was organized in response to last year’s National Climate Assessment, which warned of dire consequences from human-caused climate change. In the Mountain West, this could mean more severe wildfires, longer droughts and less snow.

The report, which President Trump was said to have been unhappy with, has since been used by Democrats to tout their Green New Deal.

Cathy Whitlock is a professor of earth sciences at Montana State University who co-authored the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment. It concluded that Montana would experience more severe wildfires and a lower snowpack due to climate change. She says the working group is a political effort to challenge science.

“Hopefully people can see that the science overwhelmingly points to our climate is changing,” she said.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Nate Hegyi is the Utah reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, based at KUER. He covers federal land management agencies, indigenous issues, and the environment. Before arriving in Salt Lake City, Nate worked at Yellowstone Public Radio, Montana Public Radio, and was an intern with NPR's Morning Edition. He received a master's in journalism from the University of Montana.
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