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Susan Walsh / AP

EPA has a message about Scott Pruitt's instantly controversial new comments about climate change: nothing to see here.

He made a statement this morning that is consistent with his prior statements — John Konkus, an EPA spokesman, to reporters in Houston.

However, Pruitt also went a bit further than his past public remarks Thursday when he told CNBC that he does not agree that carbon dioxide is a "primary contributor to the global warming that we see." That diverges a lot from the dominant view among scientists about the role of human-induced carbon emissions in the global warming that's underway.

Why it matters: The voluminous press coverage of Pruitt's CNBC comments and immediate attacks from Democrats and environmentalists signal how EPA is facing intense scrutiny as the Trump administration seeks to unwind Obama-era climate initiatives.

What's next: Pruitt's climate views are certain to remain in the news. The White House is slated to issue an executive order soon to begin the lengthy process of rescinding carbon emissions rules for power plants. And Pruitt is also reportedly planning to revisit strict mileage standards for cars and light trucks that are another pillar of Obama's climate push.

EPA, in a prepared statement Thursday, reiterated Pruitt's previously stated uncertainty about the extent of humans' role in rising temperatures but did not repeat any outright disagreement about the role of carbon emissions. The agency said:

"Administrator Pruitt has said repeatedly and consistently that he believes the climate is warming and that it is in part due to human activity. Many questions remain however that should be debated: how much is the climate changing, to what extent is human activity involved, and what to do about it?"

Go deeper

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Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

4 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.