President Trump on Thursday announced his decision to pull out of the landmark Paris climate agreement — the one that virtually all countries in the world signed onto except Syria and Nicaragua — and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, was part of the cheering section.
DeVos, a Michigan billionaire who has said publicly that “government really sucks” and strongly supports the president’s efforts to eliminate regulations, said in a statement:
“The announcement made today by the President is one more example of his commitment to rolling back the unrealistic and overreaching regulatory actions by the previous Administration. President Trump is making good on his promise to put America and American workers first.”
(She didn’t mention, not surprisingly, that some of the country’s largest companies and their leaders had urged Trump to stay in the accord, arguing that withdrawal could make it harder for them to create jobs.)
DeVos and her family have financially supported many Republican candidates who oppose climate change, as does Trump, who has in the past called it a “hoax.” And DeVos’s primary education priority is to expand school choice, including programs that allow public funding to be used for education at private and religious schools, some of which teach that evolution and climate change aren’t real.
During her February confirmation hearing, DeVos did not reveal her view on climate change when the issue was raised by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) He mentioned that she had been involved with the climate change-denying Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty — the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars — and asked if she would allow “junk science” to be taught in school.
She responded: “I support the teaching of great science and especially science that allows students to exercise critical thinking and to really discover and examine in new ways. Science should be supported at all levels.”
Incidentally, DeVos did not release an official announcement from the department when Trump, in late April, made a surprise announcement that he would not pull out of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement after making it a campaign promise. Apparently she didn’t like that decision.
A query to the Education Department about Devos’s views on climate change and whether human activity has affected it was not immediately answered.