August 3, 2018 / Press Releases

Rick Scott Deceiving Floridians About His Record on Algae, Environment

Orlando, FL — In response to Rick Scott’s latest misleading attack ad to distract Floridians from his own abysmal record on the algae crisis, Sebastian Kitchen, Nelson for Senate campaign spokesperson, released the following statement:

“Experts and scientists agree, Rick Scott’s almost eight-year assault on the environment has exacerbated the toxic algae outbreak plaguing much of Florida. And now once again – he’s lying about Bill Nelson’s record to hide from his own record of hurting Florida’s environment. Rick Scott has done a poor job as governor because he’s slashed budgets for environmental and water management agencies, cut enforcement of environmental regulations, allowed more toxins in the waterways and stopped efforts to monitor leaking septic tanks, which all together have helped create the algae crisis we’re facing today. Rick Scott’s failures are risking the health of Floridians and the state’s environment.”

Rick Scott is attacking Bill Nelson on one of the many issues Rick Scott has failed Florida, running from his shameful environmental record, which reports, experts and political observers agree will have a long-lasting detrimental effect on the state, the environment and the economy.

SENATOR NELSON’S RECORD OF FIGHTING FOR THE HEALTH OF RESIDENTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

TC Palm: “Sen. Bill Nelson asks CDC to study long-term health effects of toxic algae blooms.” “Nelson has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide ‘emergency assistance’ to research the long-term health risks associated with toxic algae that’s covered Lake Okeechobee and Florida coastal communities.” [TC Palm, 7/9/2018]

TC Palm: Senator Nelson filed legislation to give tax breaks to affected businesses. “Sen. Bill Nelson wants Florida businesses affected by Lake Okeechobee discharges to receive a tax break if they lost any earnings because of toxic blue-green algae. Nelson filed a bill Thursday called the ‘Toxic Algae Tax Relief Act.’ … A small business in one of these areas would be able to claim a tax deduction for any loss of earnings because of the bloom.” [TC Palm, 7/12/2018]

In his years of work on this issue, Senator Nelson has also:

  • Introduced legislation to fund programs to study the causes of toxic algae and figure out how to prevent them. He successfully championed two harmful algal bloom research bills, the 2014 Harmful Algal Bloom reauthorization,  and the 2018 reauthorization, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Sept. 26, 2017.

  • Fought to secure additional federal funding to speed up the work being done to restore the Everglades to send more water South as intended – instead of East and West. He fought for more than $4.5 billion in federal funding to go towards Everglades restoration and worked to authorize nine Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects, including the massive $2 billion Central Everglades Planning Project in 2016.

RICK SCOTT’S REAL RECORD ON ALGAE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

SCOTT’S ALGAE CRISIS: WHAT FLORIDA IS SAYING…

Gainesville Sun: “Algae Blooms Are Part Of Scott’s Legacy.” [Gainesville Sun, Editorial, 7/10/18]

Sun Sentinel: “Gov. Scott’s Spotty Record On Algae Crises.” [Sun Sentinel, Editorial, 7/10/18]

Ocala Star Banner’s Rogers Called The Okeechobee Algae Problem A “Rick Scott Problem.” “You just can’t hide from 700-plus acres of algae, can you governor? Here’s the thing. The Okeechobee algae problem is a Rick Scott problem. The same Rick Scott who fiercely fought federal efforts to raise water quality standards in Florida. The same Rick Scott who junketed to the legendary King Ranch in Texas to party with Big Sugar executives and, ahem, donors who he rewarded with regulatory breaks. The same Rick Scott who signed legislation raising the amounts of chemicals and toxins industry can pour into Florida waterways.” [Ocala Star Banner, Brad Rogers op-ed, 7/8/18]

Orlando Sentinel Headline: “Commentary: Florida’s Great Green Algae Disaster – We Asked For It… Us And Rick Scott.” [Orlando Sentinel, Scott Maxwell op-ed, 7/27/18]

Headline: “Gov. Rick Scott Wouldn’t Commit To Visiting Martin County To Assess Toxic Algae Bloom.” [TCPalm, 7/27/18]

SCOTT CUT ENFORCEMENT AT DEP, FOCUSED ON QUICKLY APPROVING PERMITS AND ALLOWING POLLUTERS TO GET OUT OF FINES

Tampa Bay Times: Scott Administration ‘Offered Polluters Ways To Get Out Of Fines.’ Gov. Rick Scott, whose administration has pushed to open the parks to cattle grazing and timber harvesting, offered polluters ways to get out of fines and sharply cut back staffing and regulations designed to protect Florida’s natural resources, is getting an award for being a friend to the environment.’ [Tampa Bay Times, 7/28/15]

Report Claimed Scott Advised DEP Staff To Restrain From Pursuing Enforcement, Laid Off Staff Responsible For Enforcement. ‘The group says Scott advised DEP staff to restrain from pursuing enforcement and laid off staff responsible for enforcing the state’s environmental standards.’ [Huffington Post, 8/30/13]

SCOTT GUTTED WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICTS, THEN APPOINTED CRONY WITH NO EXPERIENCE TO RUN THE SOUTH FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT

2011: Scott Cut Water Management Districts Budgets By $700 Million, About 40 Percent, Then Told Agencies To Cut More.  “In his first year, Vinyard made some unusual personnel moves. To run the largest DEP district office, the one in Tampa, Vinyard hired a charter boat captain with no experience with environmental regulation, Gary Colecchio. […] More layoffs cut through the water management districts, which the DEP oversees. The districts protect the state’s drinking supply from pollution and overuse. Scott cut their budgets by $700 million – about 40 percent. Then he told the agencies to cut millions more, saying he was just ‘ensuring that Florida’s precious water resources are protected and managed in the most fiscally responsible way possible.’’ [Tampa Bay Times, 10/19/14]

The Miami Herald: ‘Political Insider,’ Served As Scott’s General Counsel Named To Run State’s Largest Water Management District. “A political insider who served as general counsel to Gov. Rick Scott will take over the state’s largest water management district. On Thursday, the South Florida Water Management District’s governing board named Pete Antonacci to run the sprawling agency after announcing that executive director Blake Guillory, an engineer, would resign at the end of the month. Antonacci becomes the only director overseeing one of the state’s major districts without a background in science.” [The Miami Herald, 9/10/15]

Tampa Bay Times Said Antonacci Had No Prior Experience Running Water Agency, Was Scott’s ‘Go-To Guy.’ ‘Onetime lobbyist Antonacci, 68, has no prior experience at recruiting businesses, just as he had no prior experience at running a water agency overseeing flood control and the Everglades restoration project before Scott tapped him for that job. He’s been Scott’s go-to guy. Scott previously appointed him to fill in as state attorney in Palm Beach County for a year. Before that, he served as Scott’s general counsel.’ [Tampa Bay Times, 7/19/17]

SCOTT ATTACKED WATER QUALITY STANDARDS AS GOVERNOR

Headline: “Leaky Septic Tanks Fuel Algae Blooms. Rick Scott OK’d Repeal Of Law Aimed To Prevent That.” [Tampa Bay Times, 7/18/18]

Miami Herald: Florida Regulators Voted To Approve New Water Quality Standards That Will ‘Increase The Amount Of Cancer-Causing Toxins Allowed In Florida’s Rivers And Streams.’ ‘Florida regulators voted to approve new water quality standards Tuesday that will increase the amount of cancer-causing toxins allowed in Florida’s rivers and streams under a plan that the state says will protect more Floridians than the current standards do. The Environmental Regulation Commission voted 3-2 to approve a proposal drafted by state regulators that would impose new standards on 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the state, and revise the regulations on 43 other toxins, most of which are carcinogens.’ [Miami Herald, 7/26/16]

Palm Beach Post: The Standards Were Approved By The State’s Environmental Regulation Commission, Whose Members Were Appointed By Scott. ‘By a 3-2 vote, the state’s Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC), whose members are appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, approved the first changes to Florida’s surface-water quality standards in nearly a quarter century — changes, they said, for ‘strengthening Florida’s water-quality standards.’ Yeah, sure. And black is white. And day is night While it is true that the panel set standards for 39 chemicals that are not currently regulated by the state, they weakened criteria for 23 other toxic chemicals. Eighteen are known carcinogens, according to an assessment by the Florida Clean Water Network, which has led opposition to the revisions.’ [Editorial, Palm Beach Post, 7/30/16]

SCOTT DID NOT BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE

2010: Scott Said He Had Not Been Convinced If Global Warming Was Real. “Asked if he believes in global warming, Scott said no. ‘I have not been convinced,’ he said.” [Tampa Bay Times, 7/26/10]

2014: Scott On Climate Change: ‘Well, I’m Not A Scientist.’ “Q: In 2011 or 2010, you were much more doubtful about climate change. Now you’re sounding less doubtful about man-made climate change because now you’re not saying ‘Look, I doubt the science.’ Now you’re saying: ‘I’m not a scientist.’ Am I right in guessing that? Scott: ‘Well, I’m not a scientist. But I can tell you what we’ve accomplished. We put a lot of effort into making sure that we take care of our natural treasures – the Everglades, making sure water flows south, any flooding around our coast. So we’re doing the right thing.’’ [Miami Herald, 5/27/14]