A Miami Beach Commissioner told a sea level rise summit Friday that Florida state legislators have left the city to fend for itself as it prepares for the effects of climate change.
“We send our lobbyists to Tallahassee and beg for every little bit we can…but we’re not getting help from anybody else,” Commissioner Michael Grieco said.
Inland areas’ lack of direct exposure to rising sea levels, which are expected to climb three feet by 2100 — and faster in South Florida — has blinded representatives there to the urgency of the problem, he said
“Some people in Tallahassee don’t want to deal with realities,” Grieco said.
The city is investing close to half a billion dollars in dozens of pumps designed to flush high tides and rainwater into Biscayne Bay on the city’s west bank. Almost all of it is being paid for through a city bond issuance.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine told Fusion that the governor’s office, which according to a recent Florida Center for Investigative Reporting story has banned use of the term “climate change,” has in fact supported the city as it enacts its sea level rise adaptation plans, some of which impact state property.
“All I know is that his administration has been incredibly helpful to us in Miami Beach in getting things done with our pumps and our valves,” he said.
City manager Jimmy Morales agreed, saying the state had been helpful in expediting permits for the project.
But he said Tallahassee legislators have yet to put forward credible statewide policies that will prepare them for rising sea levels.
“Hopefully the state will step up more as we go forward.”
Asked via email what role the state plays in ensuring the city has adequate to prepare for sea level rise, State Rep. Dave Richardson, whose district includes Miami Beach, referred Fusion to the state’s Department of Environmental planning. He declined to comment on the what role the governor’s attitude toward climate change has played in preventing additional resources from reaching Miami Beach.
The city is celebrating its centennial this weekend.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.