PORT MANATEE -- Several former state employees and scientists who have worked with his administration say Gov. Rick Scott has an unwritten rule banning the phrase "climate change." Scott continued to dodge questions on the issue Wednesday during a visit to Port Manatee.
"As you know there's a lot of discussion on this issue, and I've talked to people on both sides of the issue," Scott said in response to a reporter's question on whether he had banned the term. "What I've focused on is how do we get things done."
Scott was then asked, "Do you want them to avoid that term?"
"Thanks, guys," Scott said, ending the short press gaggle and moving away.
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Scott has denied the assertion in other media interviews, but avoided giving a definitive answer Wednesday.
The allegations caused an outcry throughout the state and nationally.
Florida is the state most susceptible to climate change effects in the country, according to scientists, and the Florida governor has stayed mum on the issue. When asked about his position on climate change, Scott typically responds: "I'm not a scientist."
Julie Morris, assistant vice president for academic affairs at the New College of Florida, notes that Florida is particularly threatened because of its long coastline, low-lying lands and the amount of infrastructure close to the coastlines. She said conservative projections estimate that waters will rise between 10 inches and 3 feet in the next century.
"This is such a critical issue for this state," Morris said. "If all the state agencies who have responsibilities involving climate change aren't even able to talk about it, how would they be able to address the issue?"
Morris said climate change is an issue that can't be put off, and that even though Scott had budgeted Amendment 1 investments on environmental protections, he needs to do more for long-term climate change planning rather than just reactive investments.
"The more we put this off, the less options we will have," Morris told the Herald. "And the options we do have will become more and more expensive."