“Go Green, Governor,” Message for Scott and the Legislature
Nathan Crabbe has a message for Scott and the Florida Legislature, published in the Gainesville Sun on Nov. 9, 2014. He writes that “Amendment 1 should serve as a wake-up call for Scott and the Legislature. Either they can address the problem or voters will do it without them.”
He also says that “Amendment 1… … would generate $648 million its first year…” and that “Lawmakers should view that figure as a floor, not a ceiling.”
Once again, OSFR is grateful to Nathan Crabbe and the Sun for permission to reproduce its editorial.
Go green, governor
The biggest contradiction of Tuesday’s election was that Florida voters approved a land and water conservation initiative while re-electing a governor whose awful environmental record makes that initiative necessary.
We’ll leave it to political scientists and other pundits to answer the question of how Amendment 1 could get nearly 75 percent of the vote while Gov.
Rick Scott narrowly won a second term. More important is the message that the amendment’s overwhelming support should send to Scott and the Legislature.
Scott and lawmakers spent most of his first term rolling back environmental protections and slashing funding for conservation programs. Only as this year’s election loomed did Scott alter his approach to the environment, and even then it amounted to empty rhetoric.
Take springs protection, an issue that hits home here in North Florida.
Our natural springs are polluted and depleted due to lax regulations and permitting by agency boards now stacked with Scott appointees.
The issue is important not only for the recreational value our springs provide, but because they reflect the conditions in the aquifer that supplies our drinking water.
State water management districts have estimated that they would need $120 million in the first year alone to get serious about springs restoration.
Springs experts say restoration efforts need to include new rules restricting pollution near springs from agriculture, septic tanks and other sources.
This year’s legislative session offered promise in the form of a bill that would have created springs protection zones and dedicated about $365 million annually for springs restoration.
Instead, lawmakers gutted protections in the measure, whittled down funding to a one-time infusion of $30 million, and pledged to make tougher decisions next session.
Scott had promised more for springs protection in his budget but offered zero leadership on the issue.
In August, the governor announced a grand environmental plan that includes $500 million for springs restoration over 10 years. Never mind that Scott will only be in office for another four years and failed to identify a funding source for the money.
Amendment 1 dedicates one third of an existing tax on real-estate sales over 20 years for purchasing, managing and restoration of conservation land.
It would generate $648 million its first year to those efforts.
Lawmakers should view that figure as a floor, not a ceiling. With big-ticket items such as continuing the restoration of the Everglades on the agenda, springs can’t get short shrift.
But buying land isn’t enough. Florida also must implement statewide, mandatory water conservation measures and stricter controls on pollution.
We’re skeptical about the prospects of the governor suddenly going green.
But we hold out hope that Scott will recognize the economic benefits of protecting the natural beauty that draws people to this state.
Amendment 1 should serve as a wake-up call for Scott and the Legislature.
Either they can address the problem or voters will do it without them.