Florida Officials Blasted |Over Climate Change

     (CN) — One of the most divisive political issues in the U.S. is climate change, according to a newly released Pew Research Center survey. The report found that 77 percent of Democrats see it as a top threat, while just 26 percent of Republicans agree.
     Count South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard among the concerned. On Wednesday, the mayor — who is also a biology professor and zoologist — proposed creating a 60-foot “Tower of Shame” that would list the names of Florida politicians who have failed to address climate change or blocked funding for projects to help manage it.
     When asked if he was serious about the tower, Stoddard grunted.
     “I’m seriously contemplating getting serious about it,” he said. “The idea that it would exist would motivate a lot of elected officials. We have to do something.”
     One top name on Stoddard’s shame tower list is Gov. Rick Scott, who famously banned the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications, emails and reports. Stoddard also has it in for Scott because the governor vetoed line items that would have funded research into converting septic systems to a sewer system in South Miami.
     As the water table rises, the professor explained, the first problem cities will encounter is septic failure. Florida’s legislature allocated $200,000 for a study on the issue, but Scott vetoed it.
     “He’s actively keeping us from being able to do the things we need to do to take care of ourselves,” Stoddard said.
     The biologist was also sore over a controversial proposal from Florida Power & Light Co. that Scott approved to run power lines through his city (along with other cities and wetland areas). In late April, though, a Florida appeals court found that the governor erred in approving the plan, which neglected to take environmental damage into consideration, the court ruled.
     Stoddard isn’t the only Scott foe. During a recent trip to California, where Scott was attempting to recruit businesses to Florida touting a lower minimum wage in the state, California Governor Jerry Brown sent him a note and attached a recent, nonpartisan climate change report.
     Co-authored by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NextGen Climate founder Tom Steyer, the report says that of all the states, Florida faces the most risk from climate change. The biggest problems are storm surge and rising sea level, which could inundate $69 billion in coastal property in by 2030. By 2050, the study says, that could increase to about $152 billion.
     “If you’re truly serious about Florida’s economic well-being, it’s time to stop the silly political stunts and start doing something about climate change — two words you won’t even let state officials say,” Brown wrote. “While you’re enjoying a stroll on one of California’s beautiful beaches this week, don’t stick your head in the sand. Take a few minutes to read the rest of this report.”
     The governor’s office has not responded to a request for comment.
     Another name on Stoddard’s list is Attorney General Pam Bondi — one of 27 attorneys general suing the Environmental Protection Agency over President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
     The plan would regulate smoke from power plants to reduce air pollution, but, according to Bondi’s office, it would “result in dramatically higher electricity bills and significantly less reliable service.”
     Bondi added that electric utilities would be forced to use unproven technologies to cut down carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions from their smokestacks by 2030, which she called unrealistic.
     Detractors (and a prominent ad campaign recently sponsored by billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg) say the lawsuits are really about protecting the profits of polluters.
     “[Bondi’s] not representing the state of Florida, she’s representing her campaign contributors,” Stoddard said. “Shame on her and the suckers of Florida for voting for her. I hope they won’t do it again.”

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