Shhhhh, the Sea Level is Rising in Florida
St. Augustine, Florida, is the poster child for climate change and rising sea levels as it is one of the most often flooded cities in the state. Florida’s coastal areas are losing drinking water to saltwater inundation, storm surges are causing more flooding, and flood control systems are overburdened. In response to sea level rise, Governor Rick Scott cut billions of dollars from environmental and water agency budgets, and would not address whether the state had a long range plan to deal with sea level rise in a March, 2015 interview with the Associated Press.
While the Governor may not be a scientist, NOAA’s graph is simple. The Sun Sentinel reported on not only St. Augustine’s problems, but also those of communities like South Miami. That community voted to secede from the northern part of the state because of the governor’s foot-dragging regarding South Florida’s initiatives to deal with sea level rise. If the governor isn’t a scientist, perhaps he is an economist. Miami Beach is spending $400 million for pumps to remove salt water from the cities sewer system. And the Miami-Dade Sea Level Rise Task Force is reported on reinsurer Swiss Re’s estimate that Florida could suffer $33 billion in damages in 2030 due to climate change and sea level rise.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported on a parade of State of Florida employees that have come forward claiming the Scott Administration has banned the use of terms such as “climate change” and global “warming”. For its part, Governor Scott and his administration have denied the terms are banned and claim they are engaged in environmental concerns. Who is telling the truth? The Tampa Bay Times-Miami Herald reported some fact checking on the governor’s claims.
· Governor’s Scott’s claim of spending $350 million in sea level rise measure is mostly false since Governor Crist allocated the money and much of it doesn’t actually address sea level rise.
· Governor Scott’s claim of record spending to protect the environment is simply false, according to budget numbers.
· NextGen Climate ran advertisements stating Governor Scott let Duke Energy of North Carolina keep $3.2 billion of Floridians’ money on failed power plant projects. The story is rated at half true since the Governor can influence Public Service Commission but didn’t actually make the settlement.
· NextGen claimed that the Governor took $200,000 to allow companies to pollute. The story is rated as half true due to fact omissions.
· And overall, the report assessed the governor broke campaign promises to ensure safe, environmentally sound oil drilling.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds the National Flood Insurance Program. Since insurance agencies cannot issue actuarially sound flood policies, FEMA subsidizes discounted premiums. To date, FEMA owes the U.S. Treasury $23 billion for program costs. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 was meant to correct the financial gap, but was subsequently undermined by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. The bottom line is the fundamentally unsound design of the National Flood Insurance Program has put it on the Government Accountability Office’s High-Risk List since 2006. And this is before FEMA pays out $10.6 billion for such weather disasters as Hurricane Sandy. If there is a disaster, the governor can always ask for for a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
Originally published at medium.com on May 14, 2015.