Climate change

Betsy DeVos won’t say that humans cause climate change

Betsy DeVos, speaking on behalf of the Department of Education, praised President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement Thursday. But just a day later, the Secretary of Education was unwilling to answer questions about the causes or implications of climate change.

In fact, when asked by reporters for her thoughts on how humans have played a role in furthering climate change, DeVos reportedly refused to answer, saying only that, “Certainly, the climate changes. Yes.”

Normally, DeVos’ thoughts on climate change would seem irrelevant — after all, as head of the Education Department, her views are unlikely to shape the administration’s environmental policy. But on Thursday, DeVos chose to wade into the climate debate when she released a statement praising Trump’s decision to leave the Paris climate deal.

“The announcement made today by the President is one more example of his commitment to rolling back the unrealistic and overreaching regulatory actions by the previous Administration,” DeVos said in the statement. “President Trump is making good on his promise to put America and American workers first.”

But pressed further, DeVos declined to discuss possible ways the United States could tackle climate change beyond the Paris agreement.

“I’m here to talk about students and schools today,” she said, though she say that the president “fulfilled a commitment to keep America first and to focus on American jobs” by leaving the Paris deal. “And I would hope that we could focus on the opportunity that these kids have in this unique environment and this unique school with amazing teachers and administrators.”

DeVos was one of many Trump cabinet members enlisted to publicly support the decision. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price all celebrated it — even though it’s highly unlikely that many of their departments were consulted on the decision or even affected by it.

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