Rick Scott's climate change denial problem is about to get a whole lot worse, not just for Floridians, but for Rick Scott's political career:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making it tougher for governors to deny man-made climate change. Starting next year, the agency will approve disaster preparedness funds only for states whose governors approve hazard mitigation plans that address climate change.
"If a state has a climate denier governor that doesn't want to accept a plan, that would risk mitigation work not getting done because of politics," said Becky Hammer, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council's water program. "The governor would be increasing the risk to citizens in that state" because of his climate beliefs.
The policy doesn't affect federal money for relief after a hurricane, flood or other disaster. Specifically, beginning in March 2016, states seeking preparedness money will have to assess how climate change threatens their communities. Governors will have to sign off on hazard mitigation plans. While some states, including New York, have already started incorporating climate risks in their plans, most haven’t because FEMA's old 2008 guidelines didn't require it.
Anyone who thinks Rick Scott would never do anything as crazy as stand between Floridians and FEMA money hasn't paid attention to what he did with the state's federal Medicaid money. He sent it to other states rather than push to expand Medicaid purely for political reasons. Because of that, people are dying every day who can't afford health insurance.
Rick Scott doesn't see putting millions of lives at risk as a problem when his right-wing political policies are at stake. People aren't just dying without health care in Florida. Look at the DOC prisoner and DCF child deaths on his watch. Just add potential disaster victims to the list. After all, this is the man whose Department of Environmental Protection sent a state employee for a mental health evaluation because he simply wrote the words "climate change" in his notes during a climate change meeting.
Scott is allegedly thinking about bringing his disastrous policies to the national stage with a potential U.S. Senate run.
There's no doubt in my mind he'll thumb his nose at these funds the same way he did with Medicaid.
And if he does, the next hurricane or disaster in Florida may do to his political career what Hurricane Andrew did to South Florida in 1992.
(Photo of Hurricane Andrew: NOAA)