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EPA administrator Scott Pruitt visits Florida, avoids biggest environmental issues in state

Trump EPA administrator goes to Panhandle, avoids Lake Okeechobee and toxic algae blooms

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt paid a quiet visit to Florida last week, but avoided the biggest environmental issues in the state.

Instead of visiting the Everglades or Lake Okeechobee, both the topics of hot political debate right now, Pruitt went to the North Florida hamlet of Havana, 14 miles north of Tallahassee, on Feb. 2.

He had nothing to say about the hot topics of offshore drilling, or toxic algae blooms. Instead, Pruitt wanted to talk about his effort to get rid of regulations on pollution and how that helps the economy.

“The Sunshine State is a vital provider of American agriculture, energy and manufacturing, and it’s essential we hear directly from rural Floridians,” Pruitt said in a news release that his agency posted after the appearance.

Pruitt heard from more than just farmers. In a roundtable discussion at the May Nursery, Pruitt met with representatives of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Electric Cooperatives Association, and the Manufacturers Association of Florida, in addition to the Florida Farm Bureau. After the roundtable he spoke to 150 people at the nursery’s loading dock.

No one from any of Florida’s environmental groups was in attendance.

According to the EPA news release, Pruitt talked about how he was delaying enforcement of an Obama-era rule on protecting wetlands from being destroyed, as well as the Trump administration’s rollback of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was the EPA’s biggest tool in fighting climate change.

Pruitt’s official calendar gave no advance notice of the trip to Florida, and his staff did not bother to alert reporters about the visit. Some of Pruitt’s other trips as EPA administrator have him under investigation by his own agency.