September 22, 2014

NextGen Climate: FL poll shows ads are hurting Rick Scott, helping Charlie Crist


NextGen Climate's five TV ads bashing Florida Gov. Rick Scott's environmental record have hurt the Republican and, as a result, given an otherwise-outgunned Charlie Crist more of a fighting chance this election season, according to a polling memo from the environmental group.

In a head-to-head matchup, Crist leads Scott 46-43 percent. With Libertarian Adrian Wyllie in the race, Scott is up 42-41 percent. Both leads are inside the error margins of the poll of 600 likely Florida voters conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang, a firm that typically surveys for Democrats and liberals.

Pollster Geoff Garin says, compared to a survey taken in July, "Scott’s standing has eroded significantly" in the three media markets where voters have seen at least $1.8 million worth of ads that focus on Scott’s ties to Duke Energy, the sugar lobby and an Everglades oil-drilling outfit.

"Scott’s personal negatives increased 11 points in Ft. Myers (from 30% to 41%), and four points in Tampa (from 42% to 46%) and West Palm Beach (from 49% to 53%). His net job approval rating dropped 11 points in West Palm Beach (-6 to -17), six points in Tampa (from +1 to -5), and five points in Ft. Myers (from +27 to +22)," the polling memo says.

"As a result, the gubernatorial trial heat has also shifted toward Crist in all three markets. Since early July, Crist has taken over the lead in Tampa, going from a three-point deficit to a two-point lead; he has expanded his lead form three points to 12 points in West Palm Beach; and he has reduced Scott’s lead in the Republican stronghold of Ft. Myers from 28 points to just 19 points."

NextGen, run by billionaire Tom Steyer, isn't just running commercials. It's organizing on the ground as well and says it has opened 17 offices across Florida, knocked on 158,000 doors and made about 35,000 calls to donors.

It's not as if Crist's campaign is doing nothing, either. It began advertising heavily in July, when Garin's baseline survey was taken, and has since placed or run about $14 million in ads. Scott has run $35 million since March.

Democrats were abuzz about Steyer pumping as much as $10 million in the race, with $5 million on ads. But the rate of ad spending appears to have slowed and its unclear if that's a sign of things to come, a pause or a blip in the data.

A note about the poll, which oversampled in the three media markets: the toplines look similar to other surveys when it comes to Democratic and Republican support for the candidates, but Crist's 59-26 percent lead among independents is an outlier. Crist loses 10 points with Wyllie in the race, who makes the contest essentially dead even. It's another sign that Wyllie might ultimately help Scott and hurt Crist, who ran as an independent in 2010.

Here's the whole memo:  Download NGC FL Poll Findings - Sept 2014[1] (1)

September 18, 2014

NextGen builds an ark and says Gov. Rick Scott is picking the passengers

 And now for the latest gimmick: NextGen Climate has built an ark, and the Democrat-leaning enviro group is trucking it around Florida using a pretty low-efficiency vehicle to bring home the point that Gov. Rick Scott won't talk about, yes, climate change. 

The ark made its first stop in Tallahassee on Thursday and is headed to Tampa on Friday. The high-profile visual comes a day after 42 scientists from universities around the state asked the governor and other state leaders to call a Climate & Solutions Summit to bring the issue front and center. Scott met with five scientists last month but wouldn't say whether he has changed his mind from denying that human-induced pollution has caused climate change. He did say he likes solutions. 

In Tallahassee on Thursday, Dr. Ron Saff, an alergy and asthma specialist and a member of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, warned that the time for talk has already passed as Florida is feeling the effects of human-induced global warming with increased cases of mosquito-borne illnesses such as enchephalitis and dengue fever. 

"The medical implications of global climate change are catastropic,'' he said. "Parts of Miami are regularly flooding and climate change isn't a thing we have to worry about in the future. It's already here."

Jillian Mushman, a junior at Florida State University, told the small crowd at the Tallahassee park that "two by two, Rick Scott’s special interest campaign contributors'' -- such as sugar lobbyists, oil drillers, and the Koch brothers who recently spent $25,000 -- will get a "ticket on Scott’s Ark."

"Florida families may not have the campaign cash to get a ticket on the ark but what we do have is the choice in November,'' she said. 

September 17, 2014

Scientists respond to Gov. Rick Scott, call for 'Science & Solutions Summit'

Scott and climate changeIf Florida’s climate scientists have proven anything this summer, it is that they are careful listeners.

After Gov. Rick Scott told them last month that he is “focused on solutions,” 42 scientists from Florida colleges and universities crafted a letter asking the governor and state policy leaders to convene a “Climate Science & Solutions Summit” to be held this fall to come up with an action plan for Florida.

“As scientists, we would like the opportunity to contribute scientific information to a plan which would address what is at stake for our state,’’ the scientists wrote.

The letter, to be released on Thursday and obtained by the Herald/Times, comes a month after five of the state’s top climate scientists met with Gov. Rick Scott to discuss climate change.

The scientists asked for the meeting after Scott said that he did not have an opinion on the issue because he was “not a scientist.”

The scientists first wrote to Scott saying they “were scientists” and would welcome the opportunity to explain to him why Florida is especially vulnerable as rising sea levels are flooding streets in Miami Beach, salt water is encroaching on drinking water supplies, and warming water is damaging the coral reefs.

But just hours before the Aug. 19 meeting in his office, the governor told reporters that instead of talking about the causes of climate change, he wanted to talk about solutions. Story here. Here's the letter: Download SCIENTISTS ON CLIMATE SCIENCE AND SOLUTIONS

Top Photo: Eckerd College Marine Science Professor David Hastings speaks to Gov. Rick Scott and his aide, Noah Valenstein, about why Florida should take action now to offset the impact of climate change in August.

Below: Climate scientists outside Florida's old Capitol and on the 22nd floor of the new Capitol, surveying the topography and the state's former ocean ridge.

IMG_2972 IMG_2989


Miami-Dade wants more scrutiny of FPL cooling canals, fearing bigger problems


Worried that rising temperatures and a festering algae bloom in Turkey Point’s cooling canals may hint at bigger problems for Florida Power & Light, Miami-Dade County officials said Tuesday they plan to assert the county's regulatory power to find out what’s ailing the aging canals.

“Clearly the cooling canal water is migrating outside the boundaries of their system,” Lee Hefty, director of the Division of Environmental Resources Management, told county commissioners before suggesting the county take action.

Since June, FPL has been struggling to control the hot canals and an algae bloom that has spread throughout the 168-mile loop. The canals were dug in the 1970s and act like a radiator to help keep the nuclear power plant from overheating.

The utility has twice asked the South Florida Water Management District for more water to freshen the canals. Earlier this summer, the agency signed off on up to 14 million gallons a day from the Floridan aquifer and last week agreed to a temporary permit for up to 100 million gallons of freshwater a day from a nearby canal.

The utility needed the county’s permission to lay pipes across endangered wetlands, a request that could have been granted by staff. But environmental groups asked for a public hearing, warning that a spreading underground saltwater plume potentially worsened by the hot canals posed a bigger risk to Biscayne National Park and area water quality.

“We have the distinction of being the only national park adjacent to a nuclear power plant,” park superintendent Brian Carlstrom told county commissioners. “We really need to understand why this unprecedented event is happening.”

The utility has blamed below-normal rainfall on the rising temperatures and increased salinity. In July and August, temperatures exceeded 102 degrees and twice threatened to shut down the plant. Because of the spike, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission raised temperature limits to 104 degrees to keep the plant operating. More here. 



September 03, 2014

Climate scientist David Hastings: What I told the governor

Despite the headline in the Tampa Tribune that got it wrong, here's an op-ed by climate scientist David Hastings of Eckerd College about what he told Gov. Rick Scott during their meeting two weeks ago: 

I recently joined fellow climate scientists in a meeting with Gov. Rick Scott to discuss the threat climate change poses to our state. We appreciated the opportunity to have a dialogue with the governor, but we left the meeting with concerns about his willingness to take meaningful action to address this problem. This is a leadership moment for Scott, since Florida is ground zero for the impacts of climate change.

We explained to Scott that the fundamentals of climate science are not complicated. Global temperatures are now at record highs. Sea level is rising. Oceans are more acidic. We are responsible.

That said, global air temperatures have remained more or less constant for the past 15 years. Yes, it’s true! They haven’t changed much since the record-setting year of 1998. And skeptics, including Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson (“Climate professors and Rick Scott’s sphinxian agenda,” Aug. 24, Metro), are eager to discredit the overwhelming majority of climate change scientists and the vast troves of data indicating the severity of human-induced climate change.

Their underlying message is that if the Earth isn’t warming as fast as we think it should be, we can continue our carbon-guzzling ways. 

So what’s going on? More here. 


August 27, 2014

Tom Steyer's new ad puts Rick Scott's King Ranch controversy in its sights


Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer's group, NextGen Climate, is planning to air its fifth ad targeting Gov. Rick Scott, attacking the Republican this time for his controversial secret hunting trip to King Ranch in Texas.

"What was Rick Scott really hunting for in Texas? Campaign cash from the sugar industry," a narrator intones as a wad of cash comes into a rifle's sight. "The same industry that got a massive bailout from Rick Scott, sticking taxpayers with the bill for cleaning up Big Sugar's water pollution. Rick Scott: sweet deals for the powerful few -- not you."

Oh, the irony. 

Scott's rival, Charlie Crist, was once Big Sugar's favorite when he was a Republican governor and inked a land deal with U.S. Sugar. Scott bashed the buyout/bailout, but then became governor and embraced it and now attacks Crist for not closing the deal.

This ad is scheduled to run in the West Palm Beach and Naples-Fort Myers' media markets.

With this spot, Steyer is closing in on $1 million spent against Scott on TV. Steyer has plans to spend as much as $10 million, including a large field organization that, if done properly, could bring environmental voters to the polls in a large and unprecedented way.

Here's the spot.

August 25, 2014

Tom Steyer's NextGen group targets Rick Scott for "hiding" Duke Energy ties


First there was an ad. Then there was a response ad. Now there's a reply to the response.

The tit for tat for tit ad war between billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and Gov. Rick Scott continued on Monday when the activtis's NextGen Climate group released its latest spot tying the Republican to a controversial Duke Energy deal that socked customers with higher fees to build a nuclear plant that was ultimately never built.

NextGen released the first spot earlier this month, which PolitiFact rated as "half true."

Scott's Republican Party of Florida tried to pin the deal on Democrat Charlie Crist -- a claim that was "false," according to PolitiFact (both ads and another were fact-checked here).

Now, based on that last spot, NextGen says Scott is simply "hiding."

August 22, 2014

NextGen revives its attack on Rick Scott for taking cash from Collier family


 NextGen Climate on Friday recrafted its attack on Gov. Rick Scott and began airing a second ad telling him to return the $200,000 in campaign cash he accepted from the Collier Family, which leased land that became the site for oil drilling near the Everglades. 

Like the first ad, the ad is airing in West Palm Beach and Fort Myers television markets.

NextGen Climate is funded by hedge fund billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer who promises to be a player in Florida's governor's race if he follows up on his promise to spend millions to defeat Scott.  Steyer has committed $50 million of his own money to oppose the use of fossil fuels. 

After NextGen Climate released its first ad earlier this month, the Republican Party of Florida responded with its own attack on Charlie Crist in the same markets.

As PolitiFact Florida found, there are a few degrees of separation between Scott and the oil drilling. The ad nonetheless accuses the Collier family of profiting from drilling on their land near the Everglades and calls on Scott to return the cash. The family's company, Collier Resources, leased about 120,000 acres of mineral rights to the Dan. A. Hughes Company. Hughes received a state permit to conduct the controversial hydraulic fracking in the region. 

After injecting the acid, Hughes workers injected a mix of sand and chemical gel under pressure to prop open the new fractures and let the oil flow out, a process not covered by the DEP permit. DEP fined Hughes $25,000. 

The governor has tried to repair his environmental record in recent weeks in the face of Steyer's t announcements. launching a "Let's Keep Florida Beautiful Tour" and vowing to steer more money into environmental causes.

He also sat down with climate scientists this week in his office who urged him to act now to develop a plan for Florida to mitigate the impact of climate change. The governror, however, neither accepted their conclusion that the globe's warming is caused by humans, nor would he commit to doing anything to address their concerns.



August 20, 2014

Development v. enviro conflict as port dredging damages coral reef, state says


The $205 million dredge project to deepen Port Miami has spread a blanket of silt and clay over the bay bottom that is smothering coral and damaging sea life, state environmental inspectors have found.

In a letter Monday, the state Department of Environmental Protection warned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is managing the project, that work is violating state permits, churning up too much sediment and having a “profound effect” on the sea floor. The agency gave the Corps two weeks to respond.

“A fast response to this issue may minimize long-lasting impacts,” an inspection concluded.

The warning follows a similar complaint last month from the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper watchdog group, which threatened to sue in September unless work is cleaned up. Story here. 

August 19, 2014

Scott meets with experts but would not say if he still denies climate change

Scott and climate change

Gov. Rick Scott listened to five of Florida’s top climate scientists Tuesday as they urged him to show leadership and develop policies to offset the impact of human-induced climate change to the state.

But the governor whose campaign strategy has been to say nothing on the issue except that he is “not a scientist,” stayed true to his plan. He would not comment, question or commit to whether or not he believes the warnings by the experts deserve his attention.

“Thank you all,’’ Scott said as the scientists finished their presentations within the 30-minute time period set aside to meet with them. His policy aide, Noah Valenstein, thanked the scientists for attending, and the governor exited the room. Next on the governor’s schedule was “staff and call time,’’ his aides said.

The scientists, who are the top in their fields at the University of Miami, Florida State University and Eckerd College had asked for the meeting a month ago to explain the urgency of developing a more activist set of policies to mitigate the impact of global warming.

Photo: Eckerd College Marine Science Professor David Hastings speaks to Gov. Rick Scott and his aide, Noah Valenstein, about why Florida should take action now to offset the impact of climate change.

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