Whitey Markle, who is chair of the Suwannee St. Johns Group of the Sierra Club in Florida, has written the following article in the Group’s July newsletter. In this article he gives his assessment of Florida’s governor in regard to his sincerity in environmental issues.
Whitey has a great deal of experience in the on-going battle of protecting Florida’s environment from those who exploit them for personal gain, and his opinions carry a lot of weight.
Not only do we think so, but the national offices of Sierra Club just awarded him with the Special Service Award for his long years of service to Florida’s environment. This coveted award was given to only three recipients nation-wide last year, which shows that it is not thrown about recklessly.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
News From the Chair
By Whitey Markle
Obviously sensing a close race for Governor in the November election, former U.S. congressman Ron DeSantis painted himself “green”. Despite a terrible 3-term congressional environmental record, he was able to convince some independent voters of his yearn for environmental protection. He won, like his predecessor, Senator Rick Scott, by a very small margin.The first week after the election the news media blasted us with the good news that the Governor had stopped all aquatic spraying in our waterways, and he formed a “task force” to contemplate the issue. Many environmental activists were optimistic about his possible environmental future. Citizens were to participate in several public workshops to be facilitated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC, the biggest Glyphosate user in Florida). After a massive public turnout against state spraying at a couple of those workshops, the FWC quickly announced the results of the workshops that were still in progress and supposedly taking public input via mail, email, and voice at the meetings: The state agencies using Glyphosate would rearrange their application schedules and conduct educational exercises regarding the use of such toxic chemicals. So after a 2 week break in the use of Glyphosate (Aquatic Roundup produced by Monsanto), spraying resumed as usual because, according to the agencies, “That method of weed control is cost-effective”. The Governor was silent.
Then the legislative session started a month or so later. The Governor blasted us with a public announcement in which he pronounced himself to be “very concerned about our water”, and he said he would “ban fracking in Florida”. Then he disappeared from the environmental arena. He also formed a Blue-Green Algae Task force that will, once again “study” the water pollution problem. From what we can decipher from the Task Force publications and videos is that they are emphasizing mitigation policies rather than prevention; more Band-Aids, more slimy water, and less tourism. (It’s “cost-effective).
All water quality legislation died in committee as the session rolled on. The Governor was mute. There was a “bad” fracking bill that made its way up through some committees, but it also “died”. No voice from the Governor. What they did accomplish was a farthing for Florida Forever, compared to historical funding for preservation land purchase. What a slap in the face.
But the Greenwashing becomes bare when we examine the Governor’s signatures on environmental bills. Worst of all, after the Sierra Club, with several environmental organizations, conducted a massive statewide campaign to urge the Governor to veto Senate Bill 7068, the Transportation bill that authorized 3 mega toll roads across Florida that will cost us taxpayers $3 Billion over the next 30 years and deplete education, infrastructure, water protection, medical care funding, the Governor eventually signed the boondoggle into law.
This week, he signed SB 7103, a bill that codifies court costs for citizens and local governments who oppose land use changes to local comprehensive plans, essentially squashing local government’s ability to protect its environmental resources.
It appears that the legislature, with the assistance of the Governor, are squashing the judicial branch of our government. Citizens are entitled to fair and impartial, as well as well-vetted debate. This bad bill is another step toward suppressing public participation in the governmental process. It should be challenged.
So, as we can easily observe, the good new Governor is just another growth-oriented businessman, who painted himself green for temporary political reasons. Nothing more.