Eight Florida students are demanding that Republican Gov. Rick Scott adhere to his 'legal and moral obligation' to protect the state and its people from the impact of climate change.
One week after announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott has been hit with a lawsuit. The plaintiffs say he’s shirking his “legal and moral obligation” to protect the state from the effects of climate change.
And it’s 8 Florida students, aged 10 to 20, who are putting Scott on notice.
“The plaintiffs are asking the state of Florida to adhere to its legal and moral obligation to protect current and future generations from the intensifying impacts of climate change,” the group said in a statement.
The lawsuit names Scott, state agencies, and the heads of those agencies as defendants.
“The Defendants, through their actions and inactions as public officials who create and manage Florida’s fossil fuel-based energy system and are responsible for responding to the threat of climate change, are materially causing and contributing to the increasing negative effect of Climate Change Impacts,” according to the lawsuit.
“Right now we live in what I like to call the state of denial because the state of Florida is doing nothing to address climate change, but everything to cause it. That is completely immoral,” said plaintiff Delaney Reynolds.
Florida is home to more than 1,000 miles of coastline, where millions of people live in low-lying areas. And rising sea levels threaten 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.
“Miami Beach, which has seen worsening seasonal flooding, has already spent $125 million to keep its streets dry,” the Miami Herald reports. “Those high tides aren’t going to get to smaller. New research from NOAA shows Miami streets could flood every single day by 2070 under many climate models.”
Yet despite the enormous looming threat, Scott has done nothing to protect his constituents.
In 2014, Scott famously told reporters “I’m not a scientist” when pressed on the issue of climate change. The non sequitur seemed to imply that he couldn’t decide if climate change existed or not without a scientific background.
The following year, Scott implemented a gag order on the use of the terms “climate change” or “global warming” by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.
And if Scott thinks the lawsuit this week is just a stunt, he ought to think again.
In 2015, 21 young plaintiffs nationwide sued the federal government on the same legal grounds. They claimed that the government had violated the public trust by failing to protect the environment.
That case is set to go to trial in October. Rick Scott may want to pay close attention.