White House declines to say if climate change may have been a factor in recent hurricanes

PHOTO: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers questions at a White House briefing, Sept. 11, 2017, in Washington. PlayWin McNamee/Getty Images
WATCH EPA chief Scott Pruitt talks Irma and climate change on 'Powerhouse Politics'

After two back-to-back major hurricanes battered the coasts of Texas, Louisiana and Florida within the space of two weeks, the White House refused to answer questions Monday about whether climate change may have been a factor in the ferocious storms.

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When at the White House press briefing on Monday a reporter asked whether the two destructive hurricanes have changed the administration's position regarding climate change, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said that the issue is taken "seriously," but declined to spell out the administration's position.

“Causality is outside of my ability to analyze right now," said Bossert, adding that "response capabilities" are the priority at the moment.

However, he also said, "I will tell you that we continue to take seriously ... climate change, not the cause of it but the things that we observe."

President Donald Trump's public position on climate change has been inconsistent. In May, he withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, portraying the move as one that would benefit the nation's economy. Trump has previously said he is "not a believer in manmade global warming" and has called climate change a "hoax," comments which at times he and his advisers have partially walked back.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked Monday whether Trump's personal opinion on climate change changed in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“I don't think that it's changed over the last several weeks," Sanders said. She added that she is unsure whether Trump is in any way reconsidering the Paris Climate Accord following the deadly storms.

Last week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt told ABC News that with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and preparations for Hurricane Irma both underway, it was not the time to debate the impact of the climate change. He did say that questions on the issue should be "asked and answered."

ABC News' Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.