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The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday he is not convinced that carbon dioxide from human activity is the main driver of climate change and said he wants Congress to weigh in on whether CO2 is a harmful pollutant that should be regulated.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose at a record pace for the second straight year, reaching 401.5 parts per million.

But his more recent comments drew more attention, as environmentalists and Democrats criticized him for disagreeing with scientists.

Pruitt's statement last week was not substantially different from his stance during his confirmation hearing with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in January, when he said the climate is changing but "the extent of human impact is still being debated".

Receding glaciers in Antarctica have led to an 85-percent decline in a major population of Adelie penguins.

Pruitt "is spewing corporate polluter talking points rather than fulfilling the EPA's mission of protecting our air, our water and our communities", Brune said, noting that EPA has a legal responsibility to address carbon pollution.

As Oklahoma's attorney general, Pruitt and another dozen attorney generals unsuccessfully challenged the endangerment finding in a federal appeals court.

Because there, clear to see, it states the exact opposite of what Pruitt believes. In many opportunities, he has stated that global warming was created by China, calling it a hoax. While details of the proposal raise significant concerns, it nonetheless sends a powerful message about the seriousness of climate change. The president vetoed the signing of new EPA's investigation contracts, according to AP.

That's why even oil companies like ConocoPhillips recommend the USA stay in the Paris Agreement to fight climate change.

"I'm very open-minded. I'm still open-minded", he said.

Pruitt's statement conflicts with broad scientific agreement that the planet is warming primarily because of human influence. Litigation over the impending EPA dismantlement of the Endangerment Finding (and other aspects of now in-place EPA regulations relating to climate change) will necessarily come to a point on this question: Does Mr. Pruitt have evidence of profound scientific uncertainty regarding the impact of human emissions of carbon dioxide on global warming that he did not have when he presented his case in Coalition for Responsible Regulation?