EPA chief still won't say if President Trump believes climate change is a hoax

PHOTO: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt arrives for a news briefing at the White House, June 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C.PlayChip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WATCH EPA Chief Scott Pruitt still won't say if President Trump believes climate change is a hoax

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt still won't answer whether President Trump believes climate change is a hoax, saying the question is a distraction from the issue of whether the Paris Climate Agreement was a good deal for the U.S.

"Why can't the president just say whether or not he believes in man-made climate change,” ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked during an interview on "This Week" Sunday. “You speak for the president, you're the EPA administrator. Do you know what he believes?"

"I think the whole question is an effort to get it off the point, and the issue of whether Paris is good for this country or not," Pruitt responded. "The president has indicated the climate changes."

Stephanopoulos pressed on the issue of whether human activity contributes to global warming, "Very simply, do you know if President Trump still believes that climate change is a hoax?"

The EPA chief said his conversations with the president focused on whether the Paris Climate Agreement was good or not for the country, and not his views on climate change.

"Our discussion, George, has been about the agreement, the efficacy of the [Paris] agreement. That's where we spent the last several weeks, focused upon the merits and demerits of the Paris agreement. He put America first. He said that he's going to put jobs and the environment first," Pruitt replied.

Trump has previously said he believes global warming is a “hoax,” and in September 2015 told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, "I'm not a believer in man-made global warming.”

Similar to Pruitt’s comments on “This Week,” at the White House press briefing Friday -- the day after Trump announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris Accord -- both the EPA chief and White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say whether Trump still believes climate change is a hoax.

On Sunday, Pruitt accused what he called the "environmental left" of false outrage at the president's decision to exit the agreement, which was signed in late 2015.

"The environmental left has a very short memory," Pruitt said on “This Week.” "When Paris was executed by this country, they criticized the agreement, said that it did not hold China and India accountable."

Pruitt also emphasized that the U.S. has already been reducing carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

At the time the agreement was signed, "We were reducing our CO2 print substantially," he said.

"We are leading with action, not words," Pruitt added. "When you look at Paris, frankly, when you look at what was supposed to be achieved there by other nations across the globe, it was very little. It was criticized by the environmental left."

In addition, the EPA director said the president is still committed to work internationally on combating climate change.

"The president indicated very clearly, that engagement by this country internationally is going to continue," said Pruitt.