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Nancy Smith

Why Walk into Tom Steyer's Climate-Change Trap, Governor?

August 18, 2014 - 6:00pm

How does an issue that registers barely a blip on the Who-Gives-a-Hoot Voter Meter manage to compel a governor to give up half an hour on his Tuesday schedule so he can be condescendingly preached to?

That's what is happening today to Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The chief executive, who is all about issues that resonate with Florida voters -- job creation, building a strong economy and fiscal prudence -- apparently felt he had to humor the state media, sit down with scientists and prove he believes climate change is real.

As if Scott is an uneducated dolt with a fourth-grade education.

This is the governor who stood up to the Environmental Protection Agency three years ago, insisting environmental decisions in Florida be based on science, not politics. It's true, in 2011 he said he doesn't believe humans can alter the planet's temperature; but look at the context of the statement: He was brushing off a climate-change discussion at the time, to get on with his agenda of market-driven energy diversity.

Isn't it obvious? Scott can believe in climate change all he wants -- or all the Democrats want him to. In the end he just won't be dialing it up on his radar day to day.

Neither, by the way, will the voters. Any voters -- even Democratic voters. Voters plain don't put climate change at the top of their worry list.

Remember how 28 senators pulled an all-nighter at the Capitol in March, during which they delivered hours and hours of floor speeches about the need for legislative action on climate change? Other than some night of media coverage, the climate-change talkathon failed miserably to thrust the issue into the spotlight.

How come? Because, look at the world, look at the country. Americans, including Floridians, fear clearer and more present dangers -- losing their job, how their kids will afford college, whether their kids will have the same opportunities they had.

A Gallup poll on March 12 explained it all. In the survey conducted March 6-9, only 24 percent of Americans said climate change is something they worry about "a great deal" -- ranking it a lowly No. 14 of 15 political issues.

"Concerns about the environment typically rank low among all Americans, but the current level of worry is even lower than in the past," Gallup wrote in its analysis of the poll results. "... Unless Americans' concern increases, the likelihood of the public's support for significant legislative action on environmental matters is small."

That hasn't stopped Tom Steyer, a San Francisco billionaire who opted in February to give $100 million to Florida Democrats, principally to fight Rick Scott on climate change. He's raising the issue in Florida on a sea of cash through his "charity," NextGen Climate.

So now, what a surprise, Florida Dems and especially the liberal media that prop them up are all aflutter over climate change. Newspaper stories appear regularly to paint a picture of another laughable failure of science dumbie Gov. Rick Scott.

Last week NextGenreleased its first TV ads attacking Scott. And Monday itissued a pre-meeting-with-the-scientists poke asking someone to please tell the governor "the earth isn't flat" "jellyfish aren't made of jelly" and "nope, the planet isn't 6,000 years old."

Still, with all the ridicule advancing this set-up job of a meeting today, the governor is apparently OK about it. More than OK, even."Governor Scott looks forward to the Aug. 19th meeting to discuss Floridas recent environmental investments, his commitment to the Everglades and water quality standards, and how Florida can maintain its cleanest air quality on record," Scott spokesman John Tupps told the media Friday.

I think the meeting is a trap, but I'm sure the governor can handle it.It should be interesting to see how the media spin it later, writing as they will for an audience that largely doesn't give a pink poop.

Steyer, meanwhile, maintains his political activism is rooted purely in ideology -- ideas and principles we think are incredibly important, as he said in a recent interview.

But, one thing to remember before you go: Like so many millionaire and billionaire environmentalists, the man is a huge humbug.

You might enjoy reading the Washington Free Beacon story of how House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., steered more than $1 billion to an infrastructure project that vastly benefited Steyer's hedge fund, San Francisco-based Farallon Capital Management.

Farallon apparently bought up large plots of real estate in San Frans burgeoning Mission Bay neighborhood in 2004. The area is now booming and Farallon has sold most of its property there.

But Steyer went from rich to mightily rich on his Pelosi connection, and every election year for the past 10, the House minority leader overpowered any opposition with prodigious fundraising thanks in large part to Steyer's largesse. "We want to support Nancy as much as we can, the Free Beacon reports Steyer as saying.

Pelosi's support was more than just financial, according to the newspaper. "Pelosi went out of her way to expedite federal backing for the project in the face of bureaucratic hurdles designed to ensure responsible stewardship of taxpayer funds."

Critics say the Mission Bay deal points to a willingness for Steyer to use his considerable clout in Washington to advance his own interests. Similar charges were leveled against him when it was reported that Farallon owned stakes in competitors to the company behind the Keystone pipeline.

He lined his hypocrite billionaire pockets with our tax dollars, said Phil Kerpen, president of the conservative group American Commitment.

Amazing, isn't it, how much respect money buys, even for the undeserving.

How much do you think we would be hearing about climate change had there been no Tom Steyer $100 million check?

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

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