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Bill Nye defends plan to see State of the Union with Trump’s NASA nominee

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Educator Bill Nye speaks during the Climate Action 2016 Summit at the Willard Hotel, May 6, 2016 in Washington, DC. The summit is taking place two weeks after the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” is pushing back on criticisms of his decision to attend the State of the Union address with Rep. Jim Bridenstine, President Donald Trump’s embattled nominee for NASA administrator who has a history of expressing climate change skepticism.

“Tomorrow night I will attend the State of the Union as a guest of Congressman Jim Bridenstine — nominee for NASA Administrator — who extended me an invitation in my role as CEO of The Planetary Society,” the science educator and engineer tweeted on Monday night.

“While the Congressman and I disagree on a great many issues — we share a deep respect for NASA and its achievements and a strong interest in the future of space exploration. My attendance tomorrow should not be interpreted as an endorsement of this administration, or of Congressman Bridenstine’s nomination, or seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community,” he wrote.

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The Oklahoma Republican said in a statement he invited Nye because he has inspired “countless young people to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.”

Nye has been an outspoken critic of those who deny the impact of climate change and has called for policies to address it.

Bridenstine has previously expressed scientifically inaccurate and skeptical views about climate change. Speaking on the House floor in 2013, he incorrectly said that global temperatures stopped rising 10 years earlier. In a 2016 interview with Aerospace America, Bridenstine argued that the climate is simply always changing.

During a confirmation hearing for the NASA administrator post in November, Bridenstine attested to the existence of climate change and humankind's role in it, but would not say if humans were the primary contributors to climate change. The current consensus, according to NASA, is that "climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities."

Bridenstine was re-nominated to the position in early January, according to the White House. His original nomination was voted out of committee in November 2017, but never came to a full Senate vote.

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