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Even Californians Are Attacking Rick Scott's Environmental Record

Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager billionaire from California, has decided to pour millions into a campaign to remind Floridians that Rick Scott has been terrible to the environment.

Steyer's super PAC, NextGen Climate, is going strong to the hoop with attack ads targeting Scott and his environmental record, as well as his money-tied relationships with oil interests and energy companies like Duke Energy -- the company that charged millions of Floridians for a nuclear power plant project that never actually happened.

All this while Scott finally decided to meet with Florida scientists to discuss his climate-change stance.

See also: Rick Scott Says "I'm Not a Scientist" as He Continues to Ignore Climate Change Issue

Scott's people, meanwhile, are pushing back, saying the ads are defamatory and misleading and threatening litigation toward TV stations that run the ads.

The ads, like any super PAC ad, go for the throat, pointing out Scott's relationship with oil interests, which contributed thousands of dollars to the governor and eventually received permits to drill, such as this one:

And millions in campaign contributions from Duke Energy, like this one:

The ads will be appearing throughout the next few weeks in Palm Beach County and other parts of Florida.

But Scott's campaign was quick to call Steyer out on his hypocrisy, pointing out that the billionaire once invested in fossil fuels.

For his part, Steyer has said that those investments were made before he committed himself to the environment and climate-change issues.

Scott's campaign also put out a statement about NextGen's ads, saying, "Charlie Crist's allies don't live by the truth, or the facts. They are lying and our campaign is putting any station airing this ad on legal notice that it would be a violation of the law to air Charlie Crist's allies' latest work of fiction."

Charlie Crist is never mentioned in any of the ads.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Scott met with scientists, including professors from the University of Miami, Florida State, and Florida International University, to discuss their invitation to him to have an open forum on climate change.

In the meeting, the scientists urged Scott to take the lead in solar energy and other clean power resources, pointing out that Florida is in serious trouble due to climate change.

The meeting, according to reports, apparently turned out to be a dud.

Scott himself would not speak of the meeting or answer any questions about what was discussed.

The scientists came out of the meeting not feeling so hot.

"I'm inherently an optimist," David Hastings, professor of marine science and chemistry at Eckerd College on Florida's west coast, said via Reuters. "I'm also a realist. I'm concerned he might not do anything."

Scott's public reluctance to side with science on climate change began in 2010, when he first ran for office. It's also no coincidence that he's received $1 million in campaign contributions from utility companies, with $550,000 of that coming from Florida Power & Light.

In 2010, his official stance was, "I have not been convinced."

But as the climate-change debate has heated up lately, Scott has straddled the fence a bit more, all while still using the "I'm No Scientist" card whenever the media have asked him pointed questions on the issue.

Scott is facing pressure from both sides. Climate-change deniers, such as Americans for Prosperity, which is already looking to pump millions into pushing their agenda, are on the offensive in trying to quell environmentalists' efforts.

And now comes NexGen's wave of anti-Scott, pro-environmental ads.

All this while Scott is walking into a reelection cycle with an already terrible green record.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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