EPA head on Irma: Now isn’t the time to talk about climate change

EPA head on Irma: Now isn’t the time to talk about climate change
© Greg Nash

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that talk about how climate change has played into hurricanes like Irma and Harvey is “misplaced.”

Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittZinke under federal investigation for speech to NHL team: report Overnight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick MORE, who has expressed skepticism on the degree to which human activity causes global warming, told CNN that the country’s focus should be squarely on the immediate effects of the hurricanes for the time being.

“Here's the issue,” Pruitt told CNN late Thursday as Irma was heading toward Florida. “To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.”

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He continued: “What we need to focus on is access to clean water, addressing these areas of Superfund activities that may cause an attack on water, these issues of access to fuel. ... Those are things so important to citizens of Florida right now, and to discuss the cause and effect of these storms, there's the ... place (and time) to do that, it's not now.”

The EPA has been working to protect Superfund sites, grant waivers for fuel rules, protect drinking water systems and take other steps in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and preparations for Hurricane Irma to hit the U.S. mainland.

At the same time, scientists and environmentalists say the federal government needs to realize that climate change, caused overwhelmingly by human activity, has helped make both storms more severe than they would have otherwise been, due to warmer oceans and other factors.

Under former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAll five living former presidents to attend hurricane relief concert Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Interior moves to delay Obama’s methane leak rule MORE, the EPA wrote numerous major climate change regulations, limiting greenhouse gases from power plants, cars, oil and natural gas drilling and elsewhere.

Pruitt is working to change or repeal nearly all of those major rules.

While Harvey was hitting Texas last week, Pruitt told Breitbart Radio that it was “opportunistic” and “misplaced” for the media to ask about the role of climate change in the storm.