On Wednesday, Secretary of Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Jonathan Steverson has reiterated 3 times the phrase “climate change”. Steverson stressed to the Senate Environmental Preservation Committee that the department does not have any policy against climate change discussion.
During the confirmation hearing, the secretary, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott last December, has answered to the question of Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, regarding the reported prohibition to which he answered Soto that in fact the department has multiple programs addressing climate change.
This incident came to fruition as a result of the report last March 8 by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting that ex-DEP officials were instructed to steer clear of phrases such as “climate change” and “global warming”. This prohibition was denied by Scott who stated last year that he was “not a scientist”.
The report caught the attention of the nation when on March 25, “The Daily Show” aired an exchange where Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, did not manage to get Director Bryan Koon of the state Division of Emergency Management to say the “climate change” phrase.
Steverson told the senators he supports Gov. Scott’s call for funding amounting to $100 million in the next budget for Florida Forever Land acquisition and has said that there are programs for climate change that are mostly directed at Florida Keys within Florida Forever. He added that the DEP is in partnership with the water management districts, the Department of Economic Opportunity and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to address climate change concerns. They even have a group working over the rising sea water levels issue. He stated that the impact to the infrastructures of the rising sea level is a real concern in South Florida.
Steverson served as director of Northwest Florida Water Management District for two years and as environmental policy coordinator for former Gov. Charlie Crist. The committee has collectively backed Steverson for confirmation.