EPA chief Scott Pruitt talks Irma and climate change on 'Powerhouse Politics'

Pruitt talks about the EPA's preparation and response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast with ABC's Rick Klein and MaryAlice Parks.
14:30 | 09/08/17

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Transcript for EPA chief Scott Pruitt talks Irma and climate change on 'Powerhouse Politics'
And we're pleased to be joined here at the abcnews.com live stream in at the powerhouse politics podcast by. The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency mr. Scott Pruitt. Joining us in studio house thank you thank you for being here so let's start with this storm and you can fill us in a little bit on what the EPA's role is on this but. What what is the danger level to your mind for this devastation obviously beyond the storm you've got responsibilities round that but in terms of the environmental damage that might come afterward. The population centers in Florida substantial and that that the storm that is with the Texas obviously. Tremendous impact tremendous concern here that this is actually I think it will -- quarter with respect to the impact on populations so we're looking at me things right now. 88880 Superfund sites one monitoring away from Miami to North Carolina as you know the Superfund sites and times have. Related issues or other related concerns that they can leak into water supplies that threaten. Citizens locally and so an owner's those facilities. Congressman implants and others that they have to implement to ensure. So we're hopeful we'll recess and our ability now and then we're communicating with those owners to say we see some vulnerabilities here you need to take steps to secure those site that's one aspect. Another area it's tremendously important is access to fuel in leasing the line South Florida. And in this is just a supply demand situation as demand increases in these situations it's substantial and Asian with respect air permits. We had certain blending gasoline in all parts of the country. Which creates what. Too much diversification on the fuel in and supply concerns with his waive those requirements during this period of time to increase access to fuel and supplies if you. Givers got on the phone twice yesterday that that nation in mourning. Trying to provide some certainty to the citizens of that in Florida and along the eastern seaboard so there's many issues from drinking water to Superfund. Two debris management. Landfills. Etc. that that that we're doing it in this situation to this to be very long term a recovery effort and I mean initially it's more monitoring initially it is assessing and trying to determine where that ability source mr. Kane and and then the storm hits and then obviously you'd assessment point. In any want to be able to them to monitor assessed as quickly as possible post the storm so people can get back into their homes. And get back in those affected areas to rebuild and restructure. You know speaking of monitoring and looking at that damage there were thirteen Superfund sites. As you know in the Houston area were flooded creek damaged last week after the hurricane and as a last week and it seemed like some inspectors were even able to get to excited. Have all the sites have been reached and what's the status. So the sites were in fact that they were monitored air that you only aerial aerial assessments going on and in that was kept constant communication yes those sites are able to be accessed now. There's there's a first responder. Safety aspect here we had our gimmick of chemical plant did you know that that was a consequence there in Texas. And a lot of that was the fire Marshal there was an Hong Kong the with the fire Marshal what. They were concerned about senator folks in two to deal with that situation because it that the threat to their own personnel. So there's a coordination and that's what's in this and they storms I think the federal response is essential the federal response is so important. That if the federal response in conjunction with local and state officials they truly is a partnership because there's forties you know that's granted to local state federal officials. In FEMA you know coordinating interagency federal government. That they and us working with local and city you know local towns. And and the state reinvented as an example we embedded individuals in cities and towns across Texas in advance of the storm. So that we would have real time response to the mayor of Corpus Christi or happy to say this is what we're doing it would in this Indian border and. Leon asked about that are my chemical explosion but. Quick back of the Superfund sites which we know as he can't sanitize them they've been polluted they could contain Cox aren't they dangerous chemical. How are you can guarantee to people in Houston that thinking drinking Myers say it's loyalists say. Yes Gary when you think about thirteen of these sites like. Give these sites like like all of our Superfund sites are absolute priority the agency into what we're doing is going to determine. If there's a threat. We notify the citizens and we evacuate and an end and then we'd contained just like in every situation so working with the local officials local. Want what want and keep in mind that with respect to Superfund sites. Owners and private it there are responsible they pay for that there they're responsible for making sure that those sites to secure our responsibilities hold them accountable. And that's Morgan right now working with those owners working with a Superfund site to say. He must take these steps to ensure safety and security drinking water and rest for citizens and area. If there's any concern whatsoever is what we did we deal with it contain it. In an about the citizens as a result. Some curious as you deal with this and there's a robust federal response that obviously in it involves a lot of what the EPA does. You have been very critical of the EPA admission before you became the administrator in as attorney general you know pursuing the EPA. You'd you'd set earlier this year that was justified for some people to want to eliminate the EPA and of course we know. The president himself has advocated for basin league elimination of the EPA. I'm curious as you look at things like this. There's any changes in your minds that it it. Is rating the you've learned in the last seven months or so on the job to say well I didn't realize this war here is a critical mission or do you still believe people are justified in saying. There shouldn't be any wealthy I think. One context year to year you know you do this image provided my perspective you can go back in 2013 2012 as I was bringing litigation against the EPA I think consistently there's a very important role of collateral the he had never been one. Two to advocate that the creation should not be in existence or doesn't have very important role we had a very important role in aesthetic consistently. When I admit what what what I think that situations people or justify times a feeling that way because the response from the overreach the last several years insert certain areas. That rate from my perspective in this situation Superfund is an area we are we are actually the first responders and and a general sense to those situations. Working with those private partners to make sure that they're they're responsible for that we hold them accountable so that that's a very important role. On drinking water. We have Superfund sites across the country that we have to ensure safe drinking more. And to your question if it's if it's a threat because we didn't work together add in Texas governor's gotten Florida. If we take bottle water or wheat whatever we have to do to ensure safe curriculum that's what we do so there's a very important role for the EPA historically and particularly in these kinds of situations. Are the things you've learned on the job from the scientists who work with the people of eap EP eight it's that that give you a different appreciation in the nude on the outside well I think I think. Obviously not having lived through you know emerged in response in this way yeah attorney general dealt with it in different ways terrorism activities or real coordination with law enforcement officials that. In this situation. The technical expertise opinion and sesame sites something I've not it from there with that it's it's it's that we don't have I think tremendous job it partnering with. TC hidden taxes that the council an arm problem. The DEQ in Florida making sure that they have the technical resources to assess threats that that are in existence at the very important role we play. And and and we and region four. The region four administrator is indebted right now in South Florida that the situation region six and Coleman. In our on the phone consistently. During the last when he was embedded with the TCU an Austin. As we went through the situation there that partnership is so important group that Rick. And any it played out I think in a very effective way there in Texas and we seek to do them for. You know one of the specific policies and hot fat lie light if he's an how did you make the EPA decision to. Delaying implementation of violent Arab rule or MP retina that are meant chemical plant would have hats you. Say exactly how much it was this building they still it is gonna either other and they regret for any illusion it's. Because look there's an what we're doing there is risk management plans are important. Risk management plans are important to citizens the community they deserve to you know. What chemical plant has on site and the threat that if your agency decided to push back no indication that's or don't know why in in what way. In the way that we had addressed that is the because what if he had too much information and that or impede. The thinking informed take their these these these chemical plants are terrorist opportunities well. They present soft targets pitcher can in an induced have been pretty pretty bad in those communities. And so what you gotta do is strike that balance in what's in that are in peace that you're not informing terrorists on helping them. The patient. That was the whole focus is still as the focus it was never about an isn't. Do anyway warranties or making sure that communities in the area are citizens are aware of what. They need to note that actually or deal with concerns that never was the focus and still isn't the focus. It was always about what do we put in the warranty two when former citizens but also not inform. Terrorists that might then target those facilities and threaten those citizens in those communities so earlier this week is here as you may know as our people and your point Mary Alice. So important because guess what during the mr. Arkin a situation gets reloaded I pull that are anti. And I looked at what the requirements of the Richmond and planned you know required. And we began asking questions that they do that they have adequate generations what did they have redundancy. With respect to those trailers that blew we don't know yet there's some concern that they did there's some concern that they didn't have a primary power source. That day that refrigerated those trailers huge you know due to keep those chemicals safe and secure. And they didn't have redundancy. On top so we're dealing with so those are appeased very much important I've never have been against our p.s. If this specific aspects of what's in those warranties that help inform terrorists that we need to be security concerns and dealing with it means holding into account. Yes absolutely and that there are certain steps we can take rate. So they're both excellent fourteen latter. That we can forward to. Companies all across the country say we need to have more information about this situation because were concerned perhaps that that you didn't think that perverts that under your. Your risk management plan. Those things are actually. I don't get to pour myself that know that those things are are are being considered. So earlier this week in the on the issue of preparedness for for hurricane this is certain prominent Florida rest resident who has a big radio show you may have heard it I Rush Limbaugh. Who hadn't had this time yeah I didn't open Connor we are here pushing her hope we're hoping he can because success aces program if you exactly ticket legal listen to what he had to say about about the emerging threats from Burma. Okay. Or. So he's referring to news media hype on these things he's also referring in part to government agencies that are part of these forecasts Peter on the inside. Is there is their hype is there it is this up is this about hype around climate change. Satisfied striking actually stop this by year's this. Strike in the midst of the storm. Give liberty here for and access to housing act as the power access to fuel. Very fundamental needs of the citizens of an area that war that we're trying this as content as. Though people like I wouldn't know it's here ya go get daytime talk about that. But to take the attention. Away from the first responders and the things that matter to providing fuel power housing and those issues to citizens event that that state. Just like in Texas. I don't under this act books my kitchen my resources. The that focuses agency on that because that is most urgent and most important at this point does that mean that those questions should be asking injury would not. But there's a time and place those questions in the ass. In for for folks to be asking not an apology talking about whatever whatever. You know people sitting in. Where this country and pontificating about what is the cause and after the storm. To me is is is is resources and time. It really is most essential Sosa is it harmful that Rush Limbaugh talking that way to people feel like the knee injury if you're minimizing the threat of this storm it by talking about it and I think Clint Kinney. Might not mind coming team do you this now is not minimize it or otherwise the store. If it's prioritizing. What has to be focused upon by an agency the federal government to respond to me justice's report that the focal that the focus. Now again what the entire place to press discussed that'd make sure. But not and that's that the storm that means that the responses because there's enough to say grace over right now we weren't heels I was gently up here. This is two major storms back to back you know right. And from a response responsiveness. From an agency perspective. It's a challenge to make sure that we get our resource is deployed partnering with those cities and towns in the stated that Florida. To help serve the citizens then that's where focuses. Before really go your big baseball fan former second baseman in college. Else though it is we were talking based. That it baseball fan. Absolutely okay my idea and I hear my best friend growing up is the director of operations in Miami team in my hometown all right with that. Tacoma Washington. Like that so accurately and misstatements and let's give us some picks for the playoffs the Dodgers though on the city's. He noted are very very year that that the Diamondbacks right now obviously now look at that if you look at nationally that ledger the Diamondbacks are playing as well priced better than anybody and in baseball right now. I think the National League year mean when you look at the that the way to MLB seasons played out I think Dodgers Diamondbacks. Was in play well. And certainly well you know when we on the team in Oklahoma City we are fully with the American League so followed the Rangers that was or parent club. I think the streets and in the national intelligence this year needn't even mention the Washington Nationals and that got did a few decades here an Alitalia. There impressive facility and not the occasion to it to to spend a lot of time here it's a tremendous facility. It's good to see them get some relief pitching and and commanders hope now that that two great stadium. All right they do nice double over their Scott Pruitt from the Environmental Protection Agency thanks for being here at powerless politics appreciate it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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