Rick Scott Unveils New Environmental Agenda, Draws Fire from the Left

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: August 5, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist, Rick Scott, Tom Steyer

Charlie Crist, Rick Scott, Tom Steyer

Getting ready for the general election, Gov. Rick Scott turned his focus toward the environment this week and drew fire from his Democratic opponents. 

The governor started his “Let’s Keep Florida Beautiful” tour on Monday, pointing toward his plan to send $500 million for alternative waters, $500 million for springs and his efforts for the Everglades. Scott is also calling for the state Department of Environmental Protection to increase fines on polluters.

“Florida’s natural beauty is a big reason why this is the best state in the country to call home,” Scott said on Sunday. “Our natural resources are the foundation of our economy – they drive tourism, housing, business, and agriculture – and they deserve our long-term commitment. We’ve made record investments in Florida’s environment, but there’s more work to be done. With a $1 billion investment in Florida’s waters, an ongoing commitment to the Everglades, and tougher penalties for bad actors, we’ll ensure that Florida’s treasures are protected for generations to come.”

Scott’s environmental agenda also includes launching a new program to protect the Indian River estuary, creating a new staff position in the governor’s office directed to work on water management, sending $150 million for land preservation, adding more sunshine to grants on water projects and launching a $2 million grant for the Florida State Park System.

Scott hit Jupiter and Palm City on Monday as he started his tour to showcase his environmental agenda. Martin County Commissioner Sarah Heard expressed her support for Scott’s agenda, especially his commitment to Indian River.

 “On behalf of the Martin County Board of County Commissioners, I applaud Gov. Scott for his continued efforts toward completion of the Indian River Lagoon-South restoration project,” Heard said. “Martin County remains a strong partner and advocate of Everglades restoration and is proud to have generated $75 million in support of Everglades restoration, thanks to the commitment of our citizens. Everglades restoration projects create jobs and provide a 3-to-1 return on investment. In Martin County. Our waterways are our lifeblood and restoration is a wise use of taxpayer dollars.”

But the team behind former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite to win the Democratic primary to challenge Scott later this month, came out swinging at Scott on the environment on Monday.

“Today, Rick Scott is finally giving lip-service to our environment,” insisted Jessica Clark, Crist's deputy campaign manager, on Monday. “Don’t be fooled. His proposal is a shameless attempt to distract us from the four years he’s spent selling our natural resources to the highest bidder. It’s no wonder Scott abandoned the environment -- after all, trees, oceans, and beaches can’t donate to his campaign.

“He gutted environmental enforcement,” Clark continued. “He halted work on Everglades restoration projects -- he actually proposed drilling for oil in the Everglades. Rick Scott even refuses to believe that climate change is real. But then, what can we expect? His big corporate donors have benefited every step of the way, because Scott’s mantra isn’t just “profits over people.” It’s profits over everything else -- including our clean air, water, and land. Charlie will put the people and natural beauty of this great state first.”

Scott’s environmental agenda also drew the fire of liberal PAC NextGen Climate, a super-PAC backed by California businessman and billionaire Tom Steyer. Despite having made his fortune in part due to his investment in coal, Steyer is now backing alternative energy and using his money to defeat candidates who have questioned global warming. Steyer has publicly mulled spending around $10 million to defeat Scott this year.

Global warming was the topic de jour for NextGen Climate on Monday, hitting Scott since he “fails to mention the threat of climate change in his eight-page plan” on the environment.

“Gov. Scott’s plan is a desperate election-year stunt and too little too late,” NextGen Climate insisted on Monday, claiming Scott's record was “dismal” and he worked to “dismantle initiatives that would combat climate change.” The liberal PAC insisted Scott’s new environmental proposals can’t be trusted due to his record in Tallahassee.

But Scott’s proposal did garner the applause of other environmental activists on Monday including  Will Abberger, the campaign manager of the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign’s efforts to push Amendment 1 on the November ballot.

“We applaud Gov. Rick Scott for his leadership in recognizing the immediate and lasting importance of water and land conservation in our state,” Abberger said. “Conserving Florida’s rivers, lakes, springs and bays, and our natural areas and wildlife habitat is absolutely essential to protecting our state’s well-being. We agree with Gov. Scott that we need to invest in protecting Florida’s water quality, the Everglades, and our treasured natural areas.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (8)

Larry Schmidt
8:42AM AUG 16TH 2014
Politicians can be so disgusting. I know from first hand experience that our governor's new-found interest in the Florida environment is a total snow job. With his approval ratings low, he had to do something, so he grudgingly acted on some initiatives. Now agency staff involved with Everglades restoration are being told to look for any and all opportunities to create good news stories for the media. It's all a facade folks. Of course, most of you know this. It's just tough to see it up close.
5:47PM AUG 5TH 2014
Senator Negron had a bunch of hearings and assured all the past legislative session would commit huge sums of money to resolving the South Florida water issues.
With one caveat, Senator Negron said, "Government does not have the solution."
And the results are in.
Scott is lying. The best resolution is vote for the Contitutuional Amendment as well as Democrats.
Republicans have two pillars of their very false secular religion. Government does not work and taxes are too high.
Republicans have more than proved government does not work for the folks when they are in charge.
Works very well for their narrow special interst supporters.
Both in the form of huge tax breaks and directing the still considerable sums of government money to them often undercover and using specious logic and always to the detriment of the ordinary citizen.
Meanwhile the ordinary citizen pays more in taxes and fees for greatly reduced or compromised government services .
Vote Republicans Out. Vote Democrats in. Stop the misery.
1:31PM AUG 5TH 2014
What a joke.Scott & Crist trying to play the "I'm greener than you" game.Fact is they'll both use "environmental issues" to benefit their supporters & punish their opponents,if it hurts the economy overall,so what?Neither one has a problem with wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars doing it.#WyllieForGov
C Breeze
10:29AM AUG 5TH 2014
To Jessica Clark: Wipe the rabid spittle off your mouth; your hateful liberal rants are defining you and your boss "Charlie the tuna Crist". You Jessica, and your "liberal at all costs" ilk, have already infected South Florida and won't be happy until we build a bridge to Cuba for even more Liberal "gimmee free stuff" votes. Maybe Florida should be divided into TWO States, with the dividing line above Tampa, all the way to below Ocala...Now, THAT'S THE TICKET ! ( In the meantime, "NOT this time either 'Charlie tuna boy' Crist")
3:44PM AUG 5TH 2014
Ah, the classic puerility of adult rightwing dialogue . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Larry Schmidt
8:47AM AUG 16TH 2014
It is sad. Not sure it is just a right wing problem, though. Clint Eastwood (I think) said it well.
"Extremism is so easy. You've got your position, and that's it. It doesn't take much thought. And when you go far enough to the right you meet the same idiots coming around from the left."
Walter Feuchs
9:04AM AUG 5TH 2014
Gov. Scott cut all support to renewable energy jobs/businesses. He approved a $100 million incentive to weapons makers. Zero for renewable energy. No governor in America has inacted such drastic cuts in a globally expanding economic sector. The Sunshine State sits at the bottom in the issue.

A LEED rated composite brought to life in Florida seen as revolutioning construction by America's toughest code body, and by the Hurricane Testing Laboratory as subject to a no test criteria was ingored by Gov. Crist and his surrogates. The composite has thermal properties akin to NASA Space Shuttle tiles. A permanent, seamless hurricane resistant roofing that generates clean energy is not welcomed in Florida.

Gov. Scott killed a trillion dollar business. Virtiually every structure on the planet is potential end-user. Gov. Scott is a green job and business killler. I wonder who many other innovations hatched in Florida had to relocate to more progress states, countries?
8:29AM AUG 5TH 2014
Too late, Rick, to claim you love Florida's natural resources. About the first thing Scott did after he was elected was convene a transition team that included executives of a big development company who drafted the plans to gut Florida's environmental regulations and significantly downsize the responsible organization, former Dpt of Community Affairs. The new rules stripped DCA from much of it's oversight of development in FL, including environmental protections.

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.