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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Climate war on: Crist agrees to meet with scientists (so Gov. Scott follows suit)

18

July

Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist fueled the climate wars Friday and called Florida State University oceanography professor Jeff Chanton offering to meet with the scientists who asked to meet with Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott said this week that someone in his administration would meet with the 10 climate scientists from universities and colleges across the state, but after Crist agreed to meet, them, the governor also agreed.

"I would be happy to meet with them. We have a great record on the environment and restoration projects in Florida," Scott said in a statement released by his campaign.

The state's top climate experts want to explain the research that shows the impact human-induced global warming is having on Florida.

But Chanton, the FSU oceanography professor who delivered the letter to the governor on Tuesday, told the Miami Herald that he was hoping to meet with the governor.

The letter has prompted media attention for Chanton all week and on Friday, after Crist's call and the governor's updated answer, he said he was "very pleased."

Crist was governor when climate change policies had become politically popular for Republicans like former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Crist launched a series of aggressive policies aimed at targeting greenhouse has emissions which contribute to global warming.

The GOP-controlled legislature has since dismantaled nearly all of those programs with the agreement of Scott, who in 2010 signaled he was in the climate change deniers camp.

In their letter delivered to Scott on Tuesday, asking for an opportunity to explain to him the impact human-induced global warming will have on Florida, the scientists wrote:

“We note you have been asked several times about how, as Governor, you will handle the issue of climate change,” the professors wrote in a two-page letter to Scott. “You responded that you are ‘not a scientist.’ We are scientists and we would like the opportunity to explain what is at stake for our state.”

In a statement about the letter on Wednesday, Scott said he was "focused on solutions we can implement to protect our land, water and families."

"We have made environmental restoration a top priority - investing record amounts in the Everglades and Springs projects all across Florida, even many that were not prioritized by the previous administration," he said.

Scott and his environmental officials face new deadlines under President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan which requires states reduce greenhouse gas emissions from future and existing power plants by specific levels by 2030.

(This post has been updated.)

[Last modified: Friday, July 18, 2014 2:12pm]

    

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