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Reality Check: Rick Scott has Put Polluters First and Florida’s Environment Last

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This week, Rick Scott is campaigning on his environmental record, and a promise to keep fighting for Florida’s environment. But as Rick Scott’s bandwagon of broken promises rolls through Florida, voters will remember that Rick Scott has always put polluters first and our environment last.

It is beyond dispute that Rick Scott’s environmental record is nothing less than an abject failure. Scott’s massive cuts to the Department of Environmental Protection and lackadaisical approach to enforcement has resulted in a staggering 65% drop in actions against polluters. This year Rick Scott claimed, "We have invested record funding in protecting our environment.” PolitiFact rated that whopper false

And Scott wants us to believe he’ll fight for Florida’s environment?

"In this latest election year gimmick, Scott is promising something for every region of our state, but the truth is that he’s always been on the polluters' side. Just last year, Rick Scott vetoed funding to research the causes of the toxic algae in the Indian River Lagoon. Now he says he’ll invest money there?” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp. “Rick Scott campaigning on the environment is like the Grinch campaigning for Christmas."

Check the Facts: 

Scott gutted the Department of Environmental Protection while giving tax breaks to the biggest corporations. In 2012, Scott laid off 58 employees at DEP to cut costs. In 2013, the DEP fired several attorneys who vigorously prosecuted pollution enforcement cases. In 2010, before Scott took office, DEP took 2,289 actions against polluters. In 2013, DEP took just 799 actions — a staggering 65% drop.

Under Scott, Florida’s pollution enforcement is “in paralysis,” with enforcement actions falling to record lows. An investigation in 2013 revealed “unprecedented deep across-the-board declines” in “all areas of enforcement Pentalties collected have fallen 70% as "selective layoffs” target  "staff with enforcement duties”.  (PEER, 8/29/13)

Rick Scott signed into law a “huge rollback in state environmental protections.” The bill “eases permit requirements for marina expansions, expedites natural-gas pipeline construction and restricts local governments from getting involved in well-drilling permits.” (Sun-Sentinel, 6/28/13)

Under Scott, the St. Johns River Water Management District has taken “a ceaseless political pounding.” The District has lost its director and “its most experienced scientists” to “people who buy into Scott's anti-regulation rhetoric” who were “permissively handing out permits like candy.” (Orlando Sentinel, 11/14/12

Scott has vetoed millions for environmental research. In 2013, he vetoed nearly $5 million to build an Innovation Hub for renewable energy development at Florida Gulf Coast University and vetoed $2 million for the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute to find answers to “the massive die-offs along the Indian River Lagoon." 

Under Scott, the Indian River Lagoon is toxic: “a dead manate floats up about every two weeks.” In 2013, Scott signed into law “weak language” that led to Florida’s government “gutting common-sense rules that would help stop algae outbreaks.” (Sun-Sentinel, 6/26/13

While Florida’s cities are bracing for the impact of climate change, Scott denies the science. In 2011, Rick Scott said, “I’ve not been convinced that there’s any man-made climate change. Nothing’s convinced me that there is.” (Miami Herald, 5/27/14)