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 PruittTrump's relocation of the Bureau of Land Management was part of a familiar Republican playbook Understanding the barriers between scientists, the public and the truth Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official 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 ObamaCutting through the noise of COVID risk: Real-life consequences of oversimplification Russia-Ukraine conflict threatens U.S. prestige Appeasement doesn't work as American foreign policy 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.