White House Tweaks Rick Scott Ahead Of Earth Day Visit

Obama to bring climate-change message to political hot zone.

Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for Florida' governor, and his wife, Ann,  as Scott continues his Unity Tour in Miami, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
National Journal
Jason Plautz
Add to Briefcase
Jason Plautz
April 22, 2015, 2 a.m.

To mark Earth Day, President Obama is taking the climate-change debate to a state that has been ground zero both for the impact of global warming and the politics around it.

Obama Wednesday afternoon will deliver a speech at Everglades National Park in Florida, speaking about climate change and its impact on the national parks. It also to the home turf of several high-profile Republicans who have been caught up in the global-warming policy debate.

According to reports from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, Gov. Rick Scott has barred state officials from using the words “climate change,” a charge he has denied. Republican presidential candidate and Sen. Marco Rubio has also cast doubt on the human contribution to global warming, while former governor and presumed presidential contender Jeb Bush said last week that he was “concerned” about climate change, but was more concerned with the economy and would not say humans were the cause of global warming.

Scott on Tuesday jabbed at the White House ahead of the visit, saying that Obama had not funded a $58 million backlog in federal funding and that the president’s budget would cut millions from repair of the Lake Okeechobee Dike. “Our environment is too important to neglect, and it’s time for the federal government to focus on real solutions and live up to their promises,” Scott said.

The White House wasn’t buying it.

“It’s a little tough to take criticism from someone who has banned the use of the words ‘climate change’ for the accusations that the president has been insufficiently committed to fighting climate change,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in response to Scott’s statement.

Earnest added that policies like the “climate change” ban were “empty, symbolic policy statements” that were “more about politics and won’t impact the more substantial, tangible” work on the Everglades.

A spokesman for Scott said the governor wouldn’t be attending the speech.

White House officials denied that the visit was geared at Scott, Bush, or Rubio. Christy Guldfuss, managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters that Florida was facing the immediate brunt of sea-level rise, so the speech was “more about the impacts [of climate change] and less about the politics on the ground.”

She added that the impacts of climate change and protection of the Everglades itself was not a partisan issue among voters in the state.

Obama’s speech will specifically look at the role of the country’s national parks, which have emerged as an administration priority during the week around Earth Day. The White House will release a report touting that parks return $10 for every dollar spent, with a record 293 million visitors last year generating $15.7 billion for the economy of surrounding communities. A second report will focus on the parks’ role in mitigating climate change, finding that parks in the lower 48 states can store 14.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Separately, Obama will appear with television personality Bill Nye to discuss climate change.

And no matter what the venue of the Earth Day speech may imply, Earnest said that Obama was firmly focused on addressing climate change during his remaining months in office, not on making it a political debate.

“This isn’t about campaigns, this is about making progress on a priority,” Earnest said. “The next campaign isn’t for a year and a half.”

What We're Following See More »
DEA Head Steps Down
9 hours ago

Acting DEA head Robert Patterson "told staff Monday he is retiring, saying that running the agency as a temporary fill-in had become 'increasingly challenging.'"

White House Promises New Immigration Crackdown Before Midterms
9 hours ago

"Top aides to President Donald Trump are planning additional crackdowns on immigration before the November midterms, despite a growing backlash over the administration’s move to separate migrant children from parents at the border. Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and a team of officials from the Justice Department, Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget have been quietly meeting for months to find ways to use executive authority and under-the-radar rule changes to strengthen hardline U.S. immigration policies."

Justice Dept. IG Looking into Comey Leaking His Memos
10 hours ago

"The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is looking into former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to give his personal memos to a friend outside the government. 'We received a referral on that from the FBI. We are handling that referral and we will issue a report when the matter is completed,' Inspector General Michael Horowitz said during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing came days after Horowitz’s office released a near 600-page report on the FBI’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server." Comey has testified that he released the memos as "private citizen."

Roger Stone Says He Forgot About Meeting with Russian
14 hours ago

"Two longtime associates of President Donald Trump are now acknowledging a previously undisclosed contact in May 2016 with a Russian who they say offered dirt on Hillary Clinton. Roger Stone and Michael Caputo say they forgot to tell investigators about their contact with a Russian national who goes by the name Henry Greenberg — even though they say Greenberg offered to sell incriminating information to the Trump campaign for $2 million."

Senators Want to Rubber Stamp Any North Korean Deal
6 days ago

"As Trump signed a joint statement with Kim Jong Un that offered few details on how the North Korean leader would make good on his vow to denuclearize, Republicans on Capitol Hill said Tuesday that they want and expect the White House to submit any final agreement for their approval." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for any agreement to be in the form of a treaty.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.