EPA's Scott Pruitt Dined With Fellow Climate Science Denier and Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell, Documents Show

Read time: 3 mins
Scott Pruitt

One of the Catholic church's most powerful figures, Australian climate science denier Cardinal George Pell, dined with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt and discussed a plan to set up a two-sided “debate” about human-caused climate change, it has been revealed.

According to documents collated by The New York Times, administrator Pruitt joined Pell and others for a $240-per-head dinner in June 2017, an engagement that was left off official schedules of Pruitt's Vatican visit.

In an email sent during the dinner, one EPA staff member said that Pell and Pruitt had discussed a Wall Street Journal article reporting on proposals for a military-style “red team/blue team” debate on climate science.

Climate science denial groups, including the Heartland Institute, have been pushing the idea of such a debate for years.  The proposal from Pruitt for the debate appears to be on hold.

Vatican Ties

New York Times reporter Eric Lipton, sharing documents on Twitter, commented that Cardinal Pell’s name had been left off multiple versions of Pruitt’s EPA schedule for the Vatican trip, which included a private mass and special tours.

Pell, who acts as the Vatican’s treasurer, has dismissed the science linking greenhouse gas emissions with dangerous climate change.

Pruitt has also refused to acknowledge the science showing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning as a main driver of global warming.

Pell has previously given the annual lecture for the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a UK climate science denial group, in which he said adding CO2 to the atmosphere would be merely good news for plants.

His speech was described by climate scientists as “utter rubbish” and “flawed.”

Global Warming Policy Foundation

One GWPF funder, Australian hedge fund billionaire Sir Michael Hintze, has also donated millions for renovations at the Vatican and sits on the board of the Vatican Bank. Hintze has also been a major donor to the UK’s Conservative Party.

Pell is also a long-standing spiritual mentor to former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who delivered the GWPF’s 2017 annual lecture.

Pell has been on leave from the Vatican to return to Australia, where he is facing charges of sexual assault, which he denies.

It was first revealed that Pell was under investigation in February 2016, but he was not formally charged until June 29 2017 — almost three weeks after the dinner with Pruitt.

Federalist Society

Also at the dinner was the influential Leonard Leo, who heads the conservative judicial group the Federalist Society and who, according to an earlier report in The New York Times, had helped the EPA to organize the June 2017 Vatican trip.

The Federalist Society is a noted “pipeline” for Supreme Court appointments under the Trump administration.

In April 2018, it was revealed that Leo had been working as a conduit between the Koch brothers and senior staff at George Mason University.

Koch-funded organizations have been major donors to the university, with documents revealing how the Kochs were able to exert influence on the hiring of some staff at the university’s Mercatus Center — a center established by the Kochs.

Main image: EPA administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Credit: Zach D. Roberts for DeSmog

Get DeSmog News and Alerts