Scientists shouldn’t be muzzled under Trump, Ross says impacts of rising seas on agenda

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was the lead in filing a bill this week to keep scientists from being muzzled under the Trump administration, and previously received a promise from new Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that he would “focus on addressing the impacts” of sea level rise.

Ross, whose Palm Beach mansion sits about 4.3 feet above sea level, told Nelson in a Jan. 23 letter that he is well aware of sea level rise concerns.

But the billionaire deflects when addressing the cause of rising seas.

Watch: Time lapse of high tide flooding in Delray Beach 

New Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' Palm Beach mansion is about 4.3 feet above sea level, making it vulnerable to rising seas.

New Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ Palm Beach mansion is about 4.3 feet above sea level, making it vulnerable to rising seas.

“As a resident of Florida who lives along the coast, I certainly share your interest and concern about the impact of these changes on coastal areas,” Ross wrote. “Let me preface the following by suggesting that we put aside for now the question of what is causing these changes, and agree to focus on addressing the impacts of those changes.”

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As commerce secretary, Ross overseas the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service.

The bill, filed Tuesday by Nelson and two dozen colleagues, is titled the “Scientific Integrity Act.”

Related: Florida climate scientists push for meeting with Trump

It aims to ensure scientists are allowed to communicate their findings with the public, press and Congress, and reaffirm open communication of scientific findings and prevent the suppression of scientific findings.

Read bill here. 

“Few things are more un-American than censorship, especially when it would keep the public in the dark on viatl public health and safety information, such as climate change and sea level rise,” Nelson said. “Any attempt to intimidate or muzzle scientists must be stopped.”

Nelson is the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Lake Trail north of Bradley Park ives up to its name as flooding at high tide caused water to top the seawall Tuesday, November 15, 2016. (Lannis Waters / Daily News)

Lake Trail north of Bradley Park on Palm Beach lives up to its name as flooding at high tide caused water to top the seawall Tuesday, November 15, 2016. (Lannis Waters / Daily News)

In Wilbur’s Jan. 23 letter, he assured Nelson that he would “see that the Department provides the public with as much factual and accurate data as we have available.”

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Ross’ property on the Intracoastal waterway in Palm Beach would begin seeing impacts of water inundation at about 2 feet of sea level rise, but the roads to the home, at that level, would be submerged, according to Florida International University’s sea level rise tool. 

At just over 3 feet of sea level rise, more than half of the property would be underwater.

President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is also susceptible to rising seas.

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The current projection is for seas around South Florida to rise between 2.3 and 4.7 feet by 2100. If the worst-case scenario holds true, nearly half of Mar-a-Lago’s 20-acre site would be underwater in 84 years, with the brackish Intracoastal Waterway invading from the west.

The blush-colored mansion itself, built in 1927 by Marjorie Merriweather Post, doesn’t succumb until 6 feet of sea level rise occurs, according to a NOAA tool that visualizes sea-level rise.

President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is about 15 feet above sea level, but would begin suffering impacts if the water level rose 3 feet.

President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is about 15 feet above sea level, but would begin suffering impacts if the water level rose 3 feet.

 

Viewed from the air, the lakefront can be glimpsed on the far side of President-elect Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Security experts say having waterfront on two sides of the 20-acre property poses special risks. Courtesy of RobertStevens.com

Viewed from the air, the lakefront can be glimpsed on the far side of President-elect Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Security experts say having waterfront on two sides of the 20-acre property poses special risks. Courtesy of RobertStevens.com

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