Governor Scott blames crisis of toxic algae, red tide on Congress

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - In a campaign stop in Tampa on Friday, Governor Rick Scott blamed Congress for Florida's current environmental crisis.

8 On Your Side asked the governor directly about his administration eliminating several agencies and cutting budgets and staff as well as other environmental protections, but Scott did not respond directly to his record. 

"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished in the last eight years," said Scott, before pointing the blame at lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

"We've put money up on the federal project on the dike of Lake Okeechobee," said Scott. "We put our money up. Unfortunately, the last administration wouldn't give us money. The Trump administration promised us the money. It'll be finished by 2022. The problem is right now, there's still discharges out of the lake."

But the money would come from Congress, not the Obama Administration, and regulation of waterways mostly falls under state authority. 

Senator Bill Nelson put the blame squarely on Scott's administration.

"You have to stop polluting the waters," said Nelson on Wednesday in Tampa.

"The state of Florida is responsible for the quality of the water. And when you dismantle the environmental agencies and their regulatory authority, obviously what’s gonna happen is what in fact is happening: runoff, nutrients, septic tanks. Gov. Scott signed a law that abolished the periodic inspection of leaking septic tanks. Now you put all that together, and ultimately that’s what you’re gonna get: excess nutrients in the waterways in Florida, and that’s gonna cause the algae to grow, and that’s gonna give us the terrible environmental problems we have now."

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