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Mike Pence refuses to answer whether climate change is a threat to the U.S.

Vice President Mike Pence refused to say on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday whether climate change was a legitimate threat to the United States.

Jake Tapper: "But is what people are calling a climate emergency, is it a threat? Do you think it's a threat, manmade climate emergency is a threat?"
Pence: "I think the answer to that is going to be based upon the science."
Tapper: "Well the science says yes. I'm asking you what you think."
Pence: "Well, there's many in the science that ..."
Tapper: "The science community in your own administration, at NOAA, at the DNI, they all say it is a threat. But you won't for some reason."
Pence: "What we've said is that we're not going to raise utility rates. Remember what President Obama said?"
Tapper: "But it's not a threat?"
Pence: "He said he his climate change plan, he said it is necessarily going to cause utility rates to skyrocket and that would force us into these green technologies. Now you have Democrats all running for president that are running on a Green New Deal that would break this economy."
Tapper: "Okay. So you don't think it is a threat?"
Pence: "I think we're making great progress reducing carbon emissions. America has the cleanest air and water in the world."
Tapper: "That is not true. We don't have the cleanest air and water in the world. We don't. You get back to me with statistics to show it."

The big picture: As CNN's Tapper points out, the Trump administration's own director of National Intelligence and other agencies have identified climate change as a threat to national security.

  • Pence was asked about the Environmental Protection Agency's recent rollback of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which relaxes regulations controlling carbon dioxide emissions from America’s coal plants.
  • The vice president appeared to acknowledge that carbon emissions aren't good for the environment — which is further than the climate-denying Trump has gone — but cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are the main cause of climate change.

Go deeper: Trump and Republicans are isolated on climate change