Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Scott Pruitt, the nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, took a stronger stance linking human activity to global climate change during his confirmation hearing Wednesday.
"Science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change," Pruitt said in his opening statement. "The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue and well it should be."
This position differs from the Oklahoma attorney's previous comments on the issue and President-elect Donald Trump, who at one time said global warming was a concept invented by the Chinese in order to make the United States non-competitive in manufacturing.
"Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time," Pruitt wrote last year in a National Review opinion article. "That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind."
Pruitt has filed multiple suits against the EPA for its policy to reduce greenhouse emissions. He says he's "a leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda" on the state's attorney general website.
He told legislators the EPA plays a vital role in ensuring water and air quality are safe through enforcement. Pruitt said it will be his job to "make things regular" in administering regulations.
Pruitt also supports the fossil fuel industry. Roughly one-quarter of all jobs in Oklahoma are tied to the energy industry, said Mickey Hepner, the dean of the University of Central Oklahoma's College of Business Administration.
The United States was among more than 180 nations that have signed the Paris climate agreement to reduce emissions, and State Department gave $500 million to the U.S. Climate Fund on Tuesday.
Pruitt's testimony is similar to Ryan Zinke, Trump's nominee to lead the Interior Department, who told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that climate change is not a hoax, but humans' role is not fully understood.