U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt refused to say Sunday whether President Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax but maintained the U.S. can meet environmental goals without being a member of the Paris Climate Agreement.

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Former Vice President Al Gore, however, said pulling out of the landmark international agreement was a “reckless” mistake that will diminish the nation’s ability to influence the agenda. Former Secretary of State John Kerry called Trump’s economic justification for pulling out of the accord “phony,” adding on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that saying he would negotiate a better deal is like “O.J. Simpson saying he’s going to go out and find the real killer. Everybody knows he isn’t going to do that because he doesn’t believe in it.”

Trump on Thursday made the U.S. pullout from the Paris accord, which was signed by every other nation except Nicaragua and Syria — Nicaragua because it wanted a stronger agreement and Syria because of its internal conflicts. Trump said he was doing so because it would damage the U.S. economy. He also has said he's not a believer in global warming.

Pruitt and Gore made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Pruitt said Trump is aware that the climate changes, but the real question is how effective the Paris agreement really would be.

“I think what needs to be emphasized here … is that our focus, with respect to the Paris accord, was about the agreement, the efficacy of the agreement as it relates to the environment, how it impacts the economy,” Pruitt said. “The president said on Thursday that engagement internationally is something that's going to continue.  But what Paris represents is a bad deal for this country. And as such, we need to exit.”

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“Paris is a bad deal for this country,” Pruitt said on “Meet the Press.” “And the president made clear on Friday that we're going to have an America-first strategy with respect to the environment and international agreements. But he also said … that engagement, discussion, international discussion and dialogue around CO2 emissions is something we should continue. …

“I think what's important here is that we're at pre-1994 levels today with respect to our CO2 footprint. And as I indicated, the time that we executed Kyoto in 2001, from 2000 to 2014, we reduced our emissions by over 18 percent in this country. So we've led the world.”

Gore argued, however, it would be in the best interests of the United States to remain in the agreement and said he told the president so when the two met.

trump U.S. President Donald Trump announced last week the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Environment Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt defended the decision, saying it wouldn't be effective, while former Vice President Al Gore said the decision was "reckless." Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

“The president made the wrong decision in my view, and in the view of most Americans. You know, a majority in every one of our 50 states wanted the U.S. to stay in the agreement,” Gore said on “This Week.” “A majority of President Trump's supporters and voters wanted us to stay in, 70 percent of the American people. So, it was a reckless decision. But, the good news is, we are going to continue moving forward. It would be better if we could move faster.”

Gore knocked down Trump’s economic argument, saying the solar industry is creating jobs 17 times faster than other industries.

“The renewable energy sector and the sustainability revolution are the brightest spot for economic growth and prosperity in this country.  The rest of the world is moving forward.  President Trump isolated the United States with his reckless and indefensible decision,” Gore said.