Marco Rubio Supports Trump's Climate-Change-Denying EPA Pick

Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons
Just so we're clear, Marco Rubio is, by his own admission, not a scientist. He might actually be a large, brain-eating amoeba infecting the South Florida water supply. But whether he's a living human senator or single-celled malignant disease, he sure talks like someone who knows next to nothing about the environment. He once blamed Miami's flooding on "higher sea levels or whatever may be happening" and has said throughout his career that he doesn't think human-made climate change is real.

So it makes a bit of sense, then, that Rubio is backing Donald Trump's climate-change-denying pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In a statement today, Rubio announced he's throwing his support behind Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a lawyer who has spent most of his career trying to dismantle Barack Obama's climate-change policies. Pruitt has consistently denied that global warming is real.

"The next EPA administrator should be someone who understands the important balance between protecting our air, water, and environment without needlessly hurting workers with excessive regulations," Rubio said today. "Attorney General Pruitt is the right choice to bring a much-needed dose of common sense to a department where overzealous, out-of-touch regulators have been allowed to operate seemingly unchecked. I look forward to working with him on the many important environmental issues facing Florida."

The statement comes as confirmation hearings for Trump's cabinet picks began today. Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, who has worked to undermine civil rights laws in Alabama, currently sits in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Pruitt's confirmation hearing date has not yet been set.

But the endorsement is a classic Rubio move, if there ever was one. Asked almost anything controversial, Rubio loves to dissemble, sidestep, and refuse to answer basic questions, such as "Do you support Donald Trump?" or "Why did you use an LGBT tragedy as an excuse to run for office again?" Then, when it comes time to vote for or support hard-line conservative ideas, Rubio almost always falls in line.

Take, for instance, today. Rubio's public comments on climate change consist of little more than intellectual gobbledegook. When CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Rubio last year why he doesn't agree with the overwhelming majority of scientists, who say climate change is real, Rubio vomited out nonsense.

Though there is a consensus among scientists "that humans are contributing to what's happening in our climate, there's no consensus on how much of the changes that are going on are due to human activity," he said.

Despite admitting he is "not a scientist," Rubio seems to have no problem telling scientists when they're wrong. Today in his statement throwing his support behind Pruitt, Rubio bashed the EPA, which is made up of scientists, for being "overzealous," "out-of-touch," and "unchecked." He has long claimed that regulations to, say, cut power plant emissions will do "zero" for the environment, and for once, Rubio has stayed on message for more than a year's time.

Pruitt and Rubio seem to parrot the same oil-industry-approved talking points when asked about climate change: Pruitt boldly claims the EPA is anti-energy, and is mostly famous for suing the EPA to try to kill an Obama-led plan to get electricity companies to emit smaller amounts of greenhouse gases. For once, it appears Rubio has found a kindred spirit in Pruitt — that is, until he changes his mind.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.