For EPA's Pruitt, Florida visit just gives us the business

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It would be nice to have notice the next time U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt slips in out of Florida like a ninja.

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Frank Cerabino
, Cox Newspapers

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It would be nice to have notice the next time U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt slips in out of Florida like a ninja.

Pruitt made an off-schedule, unannounced Florida visit last week. And it's understandable why he didn't want most Floridians to know about it in advance.

After all, we here in Florida have lots of environmental concerns, things that we might ask an EPA administrator to address. Things such as agricultural pollution in Lake Okeechobee, the recurring algae blooms on the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers, and the saltwater from rising sea levels encroaching on our underground drinking water supplies. Not to mention a commitment to oppose offshore oil drilling.

Pruitt didn't want to talk about all that. He was just here to lead a polluters' support group.

"The Sunshine State is a vital provider of American agriculture, energy and manufacturing, and it's essential we hear directly from rural Floridians," Pruitt's said in a statement issued after his trip to a small town in Florida's Panhandle.

He met there with representatives of the Florida Farm Bureau, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Electric Cooperatives Association and the Manufacturers Association of Florida.

Pruitt came to talk about "streamlining" environmental regulation and to bad-mouth the federal Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule, a measure designed to protect wetlands and waterways from industrial pollution.

Regulation bad. Business good.

This is what happens when you select the attorney general from the dirty-energy state of Oklahoma -- an attorney general who sued the EPA 14 times to oppose clean air and water rules -- and put him in charge of that very agency.

It's like putting a vegan in charge of barbecuing the ribs.

So it would be nice if we had some notice the next time Pruitt comes to Florida to riff on how we'd all much be better off with less environmental protection.

I suggest a trip for Pruitt to Miami Beach during one of those days when the city streets get flooded due to climate change.

Pruitt, like most polluter enablers, has had a history of doubting climate change. But recently, he has taken a new tack: That climate change is real, and yes, carbon pollution caused by man is partially to blame.

But a little warmer temperature is good, he now says.

"We know humans have most flourished during times of what? Warming trends," Pruitt said in a radio interview this week. "I think there are assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing.

"Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100, in the year 2018?" he continued. "That is fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what it should be in 2100."

Maybe Pruitt could explain to the people of Miami Beach how arrogant it is of them to be worried about their flooded streets due to the encroaching ocean, and to remind them that warming temperatures are making them all flourish.

Pruitt is just parroting the position of Myron Ebell, the chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition and a coal-industry-funded economist who has advised the Trump administration.

"Complementing the weak scientific case for alarm, many people have realized that warmer climates are more pleasant and healthier," Ebell wrote in a 2011 blog posting. "That's why Americans move to Phoenix or Florida when they retire. ...

"For the elderly and the infirm, warmer weather is definitely healthier as well as more pleasant," he wrote.

I can see Pruitt on his next Florida trip standing ankle-deep in seawater on Collins Avenue as he explains why climate change is making life better in Florida.

Now that would be a visit from our EPA administrator that's worthy of advance notice.

Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post. Email: fcerabino(at)pbpost.com.

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