Senator Marco Rubio, do your job by holding EPA administrator Scott Pruitt accountable


Senator Marco Rubio, do your job by holding Pruitt accountable

Marco Rubio was elected to represent the people of Florida and to be their voice in Washington. This includes providing oversight of government officials on their behalf, including asking them hard questions.

Unfortunately, Marco Rubio recently missed a chance to stand up for the health of Florida families.

Last week, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, where Senator Rubio is a member. This was a chance for Senator Rubio to ask Pruitt about his many ethics concerns, ranging from huge wastes of taxpayer dollars for first class flights and illegal phone booths, to his coziness with polluting industries he now regulates.

Unfortunately, Senator Rubio had a conflict and was not present to get answers from Pruitt that the people of Florida and the whole country deserve. However, missing one hearing does not absolve Senator Rubio of his responsibility to scrutinize EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt actions, especially when they come at the expense of Florida taxpayers and their health.

During Pruitt’s confirmation, Senator Rubio said he thought EPA Administrator Pruitt would provide a “much needed dose of common sense.” However since headlines about the administrator’s ethical lapses have increasingly filled the pages of this newspaper and others, Senator Rubio has remained, disappointingly, silent.

Florida families deserve more from their elected officials, especially as Pruitt’s actions are not only hurting our pocketbooks, but also the ability of our children to have a healthier future.

Pruitt prioritizes polluters while he works to dismantle clean air and clean water protections, eliminating programs to fight climate change, discrediting sound science, and trying to slash the EPA’s already low budget. For example, his efforts to roll back the Clean Car standards, expected to be proposed in the coming weeks, would mean more pollution from the cars we drive and cost us more at the pump.

Pruitt’s attacks especially harm Florida’s Latino community. This includes proposals to cut funding for air pollution monitoring, to slash the budget of the Office of Environmental Justice, to weaken enforcement of our clean air laws, and to cut programs that keep our beaches healthy. These actions especially detrimental as Hispanics are already disproportionately at risk from air pollution, and are 60 percent more likely to visit the hospital for asthma, compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Pruitt is also working to reverse course in fighting climate change even as Florida residents are seeing increasingly extreme weather and rising seas.

Pruitt’s decisions affect our health and we deserve to know what is happening in our government. Unfortunately Pruitt is increasingly trying to do these rollbacks, and waste taxpayer money, in secret.  Just this week EPA barred some reporters from an important summit on water contamination, with one even forcefully removed.

Senator Rubio voted to confirm EPA Administrator Pruitt, and now he needs to hold him accountable for his severely troubling conduct in office. Although Senator Rubio missed last week’s hearing, he still has a chance to do his job and demand answers from Pruitt that Florida families deserve.