Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was slammed Wednesday for suggesting climate change played a role in the deadly Florida condominium collapse as she made a pitch for President Biden‘s infrastructure package.
Rep. Byron Donalds, Florida Republican, said that Ms. Granholm, the former Michigan governor, “should be ashamed.”
“To come out and to play your politics and to talk about climate change and sea-level rise, it’s not the time for that. She should be ashamed of herself,” said Mr. Donalds on “Fox & Friends.” “And frankly, anybody that sits there nodding their head should be ashamed as well. Let’s actually deal with the tragedy in front of us.”
The cause of the condo’s June 24 cave-in has yet to be determined, but in an interview Tuesday with CNN, Ms. Granholm was asked if “climate could have played a role in that building’s collapse.”
“Obviously, we don’t know fully, but we do know that the seas are rising. We know that we’re losing inches and inches of beaches, not just in Florida but all around,” Ms. Granholm replied. “Michigan, where I’m from, we’ve seen the loss of beaches because the waters are rising, so this is a phenomenon that will continue.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava reported Wednesday that the death toll has risen to 16 after the discovery of four additional victims, while 147 remain missing in the rubble from the June 24 partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside.
Critics on the right accused Ms. Granholm of being tone-deaf at best and leveraging the tragedy for political gain at worst.
“Capitalizing on an ongoing tragedy to push a political agenda is straight out of the extremist eco-left playbook,” said Larry Behrens, Western states director of Power the Future. “In the midst of all the grief and suffering, Secretary Granholm apparently feels it’s the right time to cast baseless accusations.”
In the interview, Ms. Granholm acknowledged that the reason for the collapse remains unknown while stressing the need for infrastructure projects aimed at shoring up coastal areas.
“We’ll have to wait to see what the analysis is for this building, but issue about resiliency, and making sure we adapt to this changing climate, that’s going to means levees need to be built, that means sea walls need to be built, that means infrastructure needs to be built,” she said.
National Review editor Rich Lowry tweeted, “There’s nothing that can’t be blamed on climate change,” while RedState’s Bonchie said her comments were “Absolutely ghoulish.”
Young America’s Foundation tweeted: “Let’s work to find survivors and clean up the damage before we blame an accident on anyone or anything. Shameful, @JenGranholm.”
“Even scarier than her misinformed views is her willingness to put them forward without a shred of evidence,” Mr. Behrens said.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden are scheduled to travel Thursday to the Surfside area to meet with family members of the victims and first responders.
Ms. Levine Cava called the tragedy “the single largest non-hurricane emergency operation the state of Florida has ever seen.”
“We are deeply grateful for the support we’ve received from President Biden and the federal administration since day one, and thankful he will be visiting the site of this tragedy to spend time with the impacted families and first responders,” she said in a statement on WPLG-TV in Miami.
With state and county emergency crews in the middle of a search-and-rescue effort, said Mr. Donalds, “this is not the time for hot takes or to say something glib so you can get TV time. Let’s actually get through the tragedy that currently exists.”
“Leave the politics for another day,” he said. “We can come back to that later. It’s not going anywhere.”