September 11, 2019 / 6:48 PM / a month ago

White House aide who touted greenhouse gas to step down

WASHINGTON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - A White House aide who had insisted that carbon dioxide emissions were good for the planet and tried to form a panel questioning climate science used in U.S. military and intelligence reports will step down this week, a nonprofit group he co-founded said on Wednesday.

William Happer, a retired Princeton University physics professor who lacks a background in climate science, had tried to form a National Security Council panel to question the science used in reports showing that human-driven climate change poses national security risks.

Happer and others at the NSC had started work to form here the panel in February. But President Donald Trump did not produce an executive order calling for it, effectively putting the idea on hold.

Happer’s boss at the NSC, John Bolton, who supported the panel and tried to convince military and intelligence officials it was a good idea, was fired by Trump on Tuesday over policy disagreements on North Korea, Iran, and Afghanistan.

The CO2 Coalition, a nonprofit group that Happer co-founded in 2015, said he would step down on Friday.

The NSC did not immediately return a request for comment.

The CO2 group says it was formed to tell policymakers “about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy,” arguing that the gas that scientists blame for warming the earth is good for plant growth.

Happer said on CNBC in 2014 that carbon dioxide has been demonized, “just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”

The group said it supported Happer’s effort to improve government science which it said produced “unsound and wildly exaggerated reports on the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on global temperature and hence weather variables.”

Trump has repeatedly questioned whether humans are causing climate change and has been angered by reports from his military and intelligence agencies that climate change poses national security risks. His administration has pursued policies to boost output of oil, gas and coal and roll back emissions limits on power plants, cars and trucks.

U.S. military bases, including North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, have suffered billions of dollars in damage from recent hurricanes. Intensified storms, droughts and floods driven by climate change could also cost the military by forcing it to increase global humanitarian missions.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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