Crist may be the first of the new gubernatorial candidates to push the environment as a platform plank, but certainly not the last. Finally the environment has become a must-do item, but campaign promises often go forgotten if the candidate is elected. This happened with DeSantis who came into office in an aura of hope which soon dissipated. Unfortunately, Charlie forgot to mention phosphate, a sin made even worse since he was in Sarasota near Mosaic’s turf. Advocate Andy Mele did not let that go unnoticed.
Read the original article here in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Crist unveils clean water plan that calls for tougher regulations on pollution
July 14, 2021
SARASOTA — With Florida’s nagging environmental woes flaring up to crisis levels in some areas, Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist unveiled a clean water plan Wednesday that was light on details but promised tougher regulations.
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Crist touched on all three issues Wednesday, but also drew a rebuke from a prominent local environmentalist about what he didn’t include in his plan — phosphate mining.
Standing on a deck overlooking Sarasota Bay at Marina Jack, Crist sped through the elements of his plan in three minutes, taking jabs at polluting “special interests” and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. He later traveled to Fort Myers for a boat tour.
Crist’s plan includes some specifics, such as implementing the recommendations of Florida’s Harmful Algae Bloom Task Forces and passing a Right to Clean Water constitutional amendment.
In other areas, Crist calls for new regulations limiting pollution without getting into detail.
“From runoff to sewage and stormwater, Florida needs tough new rules to protect our fresh water and coastal areas,” Crist’s plan states.
Crist said Wednesday that “we’re going to finally get serious on agricultural runoff, wastewater management and defending critical watersheds.”
Yet one of the biggest recent threats to Florida’s environment — the legacy of phosphate mining — goes unmentioned in Crist’s plan, something Sarasota environmental advocate Andy Mele called a “grave omission.”
The lack of focus on phosphate is particularly glaring in the wake of the disaster at the old Piney Point fertilizer plant in Manatee County, where millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater sitting atop a phosphogypsum stack discharged into Tampa Bay.
Asked Wednesday about the threat posed by the other stacks of phosphate mining waste around the state, Crist said “it’s something that we need to address, and it’s something that I’m committed to doing.”
Crist said he would rely on “experts” to address the problem.
“I believe in science so I would defer to science and scientists to tell us what to do and the best way to address it,” Crist said.
Crist, a St. Petersburg congressman and former Republican governor, also criticized DeSantis Wednesday, saying he has touted environmental protection efforts but failed to deliver.
“He came in, really, on the promise of doing more about the environment, but we haven’t seen anything,” Crist said. “And that’s heartbreaking.”
DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw called Crist’s comment “patently false” and pointed to the governor’s support for environmental spending in the state budget.
“When the Governor’s opponents resort to making things up to criticize him, it only demonstrates that they have no factual critiques of his policies,” Pushaw said in an email.
Follow Herald-Tribune Political Editor Zac Anderson on Twitter at @zacjanderson. He can be reached at [email protected]