Gov. Rick Scott deflected calls to meet with climate scientists Wednesday and told reporters that his staff "would be happy to meet" with the state's top climate experts about the impact human-induced global warming is having on Florida.
But Jeff Chanton, the FSU oceanography professor who delivered the letter to the governor on Tuesday, told the Miami Herald that he is still hoping to meet with the guy in charge, Scott.
"I will meet with everyone and I'd be happy to meet with his staff,'' said Chanton, who noted that he is a Republican. He even offered a bit of political advice on the issue Scottt has been reluctant to address. "He could undercut Crist on the issue," Chanton said, referring to Scott's Democratic rival who had embarked a series of aggressive policies aimed at reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.
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.
Ten of the state's top scientists in oceanography, climate and atmospheric sciences delivered a letter to Scott on Tuesday, asking for an opportunity to explain to him the impact human-induced global warming will have on Florida.
“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.
How important climate change will be this election cycle remains to be seen. Scott and his environmental officials face new deadlines under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan which requires states reduce greenhouse gas emissions from future and existing power plants by specific levels by 2030.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has teamed up with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to conduct a "What's your plan, Gov?" campaign seeking promoting clean energy alternatives and transparency as the state works to meet the federal carbon pollution standards.
The conservative Americans for Prosperity has announced it has more than $3 million to spend on campaigns in Florida and it could use the money to encourage climate change naysayers to vote against Crist.
And the a federal super PAC called NextGenClimate has targeted Scott and has identified Florida as one of the seven states it will be pouring money into this election year. The group had announced plans in May to spend at least $100 million in seven competitive Senate and gubernatorial races but recent reports show the money is not coming in.
Its founder, retired hedge fund manager and longtime Democratic donor Tom Steyer, put up $50 million of his own money, and the group said it would raise the rest from likeminded donors but the group has brought in less than $5 million from outside donors and only $1.2 million for its super PAC.