Gov. Scott promises environmental protection


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Climate change and environmental issues have been one of the hottest issues for the governor's race. And Gov. Rick Scott is promising more money if he gets re-elected, but it might not factor in to who wins in November.

It is widely expected that lawmakers will look to add more money to water and land protection projects next legislative session after only $30 million was allocated for springs protection this year.

Scott is trying to show people he's serious about environmental protection after a very spotty first term. He is touting a $1 billion environmental spending plan for the next 10 years if he's re-elected.

But Amendment 1 on November's ballot will direct much much more money into water, springs and land projects for two decades instead of just one.

"What Amendment 1 would do is dedicate funding to the state constitution to protect our lakes, rivers, and streams, our drinking water quality, our wildlife habitat and our natural areas, all without increasing taxes," said Will Abberger, with the Trust for Public Land.

The second term promises from Scott include tighter restrictions on polluters. Enviro-law firm Earth Justice says it's a good start, but Florida needs longer than just one decade. "Amendment 1 this fall -- doesn't it do basically the same thing that the governor's saying he's going to do?" said Abberger.

"Actually, it locks in that longer-term commitment," said Alisa Coe, with Earth Justice. "You're talking about 20 years, and the drafters of the amendment believe that it could end up actually promoting as much as $10 billion in conservation funds."

The move comes at a time when the Scott was taking major heat for his stance on climate change. His non-committal words on climate change have been used as fodder for likely gubernatorial foe Charlie Crist. The issue could decide November's election.