CNN “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper laughed at Vice President Mike Pence after he falsely claimed the U.S. has “the cleanest air and water in the world.”
During a contentious interview on Sunday, Tapper pressed Pence several times to answer a simple question: is human-induced climate change a threat to the US national security?
“What I will tell you is that we will always follow the science on that in this administration,” Pence said.
Tapper responded: “The science says it is.”
Pence said: “But what we won’t do, and the Clean Power Plan was all about that, was hamstringing energy in this country, raising the cost of utility rates for working families across this country.”
Tapper interjected: “But is it a threat?”
Pence dodged again, complaining instead that “other nations like China and India absolutely do nothing or make illusory promises decades down the road”. He also praised US focus on natural gas and “clean coal technology”.
“But is what people are calling a climate emergency, is it a threat? Do you think it is a threat, manmade climate emergency is a threat?” Tapper asked.
Pence said: “I think the answer to [that] is going to be based upon the science.”
Tapper insisted “the science says yes” and told Pence “the science community in your own administration, at [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] at the [Director of National Intelligence], they all say it is a threat … but you won’t, for some reason.”
“Look,” said Pence. “What the president has said, what we have said is that we’re not going to raise utility rates.”
“But is it not a threat?” Tapper asked again.
Pence criticized the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rule which the Environmental Protection Agency rolled back by the Trump administration on Wednesday, thereby relaxing controls on carbon dioxide admissions from coal-fired power stations.
“OK. So you don’t think it is a threat, is all I’m saying? You don’t think it is a threat?” Tapper asked again.
Pence said: “I think we’re making great progress reducing carbon emissions. America has the cleanest air and water in the world…”
Tapper interrupted the vice president, laughing: “That is not true. We don’t have the cleanest air and water in the world. We don’t.”
“OK,” Pence said.
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) June 23, 2019
According to a CNN Fact Check:
Pence would be correct if he was talking about drinking water specifically. In that particular area, the US is tied for first among nine other countries. But it’s incorrect to categorically assert the US has the cleanest air and water in the world.
According to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index produced by Yale and Columbia University and the World Economic Forum, the US ranks number 10 for air quality behind other developed countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, and Finland to name a few.
When looking at water and sanitation quality in the EPI’s list, the US ranks 29th. (As stated, our drinking water is tied for first among nine other countries.)