Miami mayor rips Pruitt climate change criticism in light of Irma

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado (R) on Wednesday slammed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE's suggestion that it is inappropriate to discuss climate change in the wake of Hurricane Irma as "insensitive."

"It is insensitive on his part, because I wish that he would have been here when people ran from high rises, because of the storm surge," Regalado said on CNN. "I wish that he would have been here when we were told that we were facing apocalyptic moments with a Cat 5 hurricane." 

Pruitt said in an interview with CNN in the days before Irma struck Florida that it would be insensitive to discuss climate change as a potential catalyst for catastrophic hurricanes because the focus should be instead on the victims of such storms.

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“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,” he said, adding: "To use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to this people in Florida.”

Pruitt's comments, however, drew criticism from climate advocates, who accused the EPA chief of dismissing the threats posed by climate change. 

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Regalado rejected Pruitt's claim, saying that Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey, which devastated swaths of Texas and Louisiana late last month, offered opportunities to discuss climate change.

“This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the E.P.A. and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change,” Regalado said. “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”