Three years after he held a field hearing in Miami Beach to draw attention to a region at ground zero for climate change, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson convened a second hearing in West Palm Beach on Monday with a new target: the Trump administration’s attack on climate science.
Held just across the Intracoastal Waterway from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s vulnerable island retreat, the hearing highlighted worsening conditions — and the need to free science from politics.
“There are people trying to muzzle scientists. I’ve seen it in Washington. I’ve seen it here in the state of Florida,” said Nelson, a Democrat and the state’s former insurance commissioner.
Southeast Florida is often considered a model for planning for climate change as it grapples with sea rise that has increased five to eight inches over the last 40 years. Four counties, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach, formed a compact eight years ago, vowing to work together to make the region more resilient for what could be a nearly three-foot rise by 2060.
But progress has been slow, in part because South Florida has often been at odds with a Republican-led state and the administration of Gov. Rick Scott, who reportedly banned the term climate change.
Now comes the Trump administration. In recent weeks, Nelson said he has met with supervisors in federal agencies who say the administration has issued the same ban. Worse, he said, the administration has proposed scaling back agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, that provide critical research and enforce regulations that deal with climate-related problems.
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