Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New county report on climate change and adaptation recommendations: somewhere reality is sinking in but not yet for environmentalists … by gimleteye

As real climate change deniers fiddle at the top end of the GOP political spectrum -- like Gov. Rick Scott and US Senator Marco Rubio -- , the work of adapting and mitigating the real effects of climate change is going on at the reportedly non-partisan local level. The latest report for local decision makers, assembled by another group of climate change advisors, provides another push for getting on with it.

The July 1 2014 Miami-Dade Sea Level Rise Report and Recommendations is available, here.

Here is one take-away: there is big money in trying to harden Miami-Dade's water and wastewater infrastructure, its roadways, and institutions from the impacts of climate change.

Big money as in billions.

The task force's recommendation that the mayor and county commissioners direct the engineering studies required to protect taxpayers is a not-so-subtle hint: before sea level rise really sets in, someone is going to make boatloads of money. It's already happening.

The recent $1.5 billion reworking of the county's wastewater plant to account for past violations of the Clean Water Act drew out the county's biggest engineering contractors and lobbyists. The lobbying muscle and contract award was the most controversial in the past decade, pitting familiar faces who closely track the political fortunes -- Republican -- and money-making apparatus of county contracts.

The only people not making any money off climate change are environmental groups and organizations, that are typically aligned with Democrats.

In other words, the groups pushing for adaptation and mitigation -- resulting in billions in taxpayer investments -- get no benefit at all. That's why I have advocated a ten to fifteen percent override from every contract award by the county involving climate change mitigation -- to be "pooled" in a fund to the benefit of independent environmental groups because it is only the efforts of Democratic-leaning environmental groups that are pushing governmental apparatuses toward the investments that mainly benefiting Republicans.

Recognizing a symbiotic relationship exists with environmental groups on climate change adaptation, why wouldn't Republican decision makers throw off the ten or fifteen percent overage when, after all, it fattens their own net worth? To GOP thinkers wondering why they would ever empower their opposition; take some wisdom from Mae West, "When choosing between two evils, I always like to take the one I haven't tried before."

Think I am wrong to link taxpayer investments to mitigate climate change to partisan politics? Ask Gov. Rick Scott and US Senator Marco Rubio.

(Note: I was the mayor's appointee for the original 2006 Miami-Dade Climate Change Advisory Task Force.)


Anonymous said...

If your homestead taxes went up the MAXIMUM we are talking about under $100 a year - for most people that is less than $10 a month.

Eleazar David Meléndez said...

I'm as leftie as they come but I think this idea would be dismissed out of hand by Republicans as insane, and kind of rightly so. Left-leaning environmental groups are not focused exclusively on climate change and sea level rise. As a necessity of building coalitions and the ol' political imperative of "having enough people show up for the TV cameras", your standard environmental group will have some people who mainly care about clean rivers, others whose passion is dolphin free tuna, yet others who think we should be putting more time in protesting nuclear power plants, and so on and so forth. The groups are kept together by the trust amongst members that they're all generally rowing in the same direction and by the shared personality traits of the members (I think you'd agree environmentalists are generally anti-authoritarian, willing to question traditional practices, etc.) I know you have particular and exceptional experience in this field so correct me of I'm wrong.

The kind of people that lead environmental groups would make very poor allies to the GOP. They'd take the GOP money and then bash them on something else later down the road. You know this and the GOP knows this too. PLUS, if they really need grassroots support, they can always form an astroturfed single - issue group, staff it with congressional aide types and fill the ranks with unwitting college kids.

The better strategy here for the Dems is to use their leadership on the issue to make the engineering firms THEIR donors, like they've done elsewhere with business interest in Silicon Valley (Dems and techies align on immigration, education funding) and alternative energy. If the Dems let this opportunity go by, they'll regret it.