...Scott has a problem. His record. As much as Floridians would like to believe the governor wants to become a champion for the environment, his record is inescapable. He dismantled the state's growth planning agency and oversaw the weakening of the processes by which Florida controlled its often phenomenal expansion. He cut the Florida Forever program that he now touts by a whopping $305 million in his first budget. And as for water, he slashed the water management budget $700 million, eliminated hundreds of water management jobs and instructed his team to make it easier for businesses to get water consumption permits. The results were predictable. Florida's lakes, rivers and shores are more polluted. The Indian River Lagoon is disaster that has taken hundreds of animal lives, all because Lake Okeechobee remains a cesspool for big agriculture and development. All on Scott's watch.
On the same day Next Generation -- Tom Steyer's political group -- announced it would target Scott's record, the GOP governor tried to bolster his environmental credentials by pledging a new fund to aid conservation efforts and to target polluters. What changed? Scott's electorate includes coastal residents who face the front lines of global warming. And as Floridians experience climate change first hand, their understanding of the threat changes. Rather than looking at it as a far-away issue, they begin to feel the impacts in their livelihoods and homes. It's no wonder that the Republican governor considers it bad politics to dismiss sea level rise when Florida's entire south coast faces crucial decisions of how to adapt to the changing climate. Outside spending from Steyer has helped to bolster this message, after years of lopsided political spending from fossil fuel groups.