As we said in a recent post: “We are not interested in hearing about spending money or watching little dances, what we are looking for here is someone to address the sources of the phosphorus and the nitrogen.”
Until we get out of denial and start naming sources and addressing them, we will continue wasting money and time, and depleting our dwindling resources. It is becoming more and more clear that DeSantis is not the man to do that.
Read the original article by the editorial staff of the Gainesville Sun.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-[separator
State must stop pollution at its source
Gov. Ron DeSantis is touting his “bold agenda” to protect Florida’s environment, but the latest state legislative session once again gave a pass to polluters.
Even after widespread red tide and blue-green algae blooms plagued the state last year, the Legislature did little to prevent the nutrient pollution fueling the problem. Instead, lawmakers directed big spending toward cleaning up the messes made by polluters while also passing measures that encourage development that will only cause more pollution.
Water pollution from sources such as fertilizer, municipal sewage and septic tanks contributes to the length and severity of algae blooms. Yet lawmakers failed to pass bills that would have required inspections to ensure septic tanks are working and fined utilities for sewage spills or made them invest in new infrastructure.
Instead, they dedicated hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to restoration efforts. The DeSantis administration this week praised the Legislature’s “historic investment” in environmental projects, but stopping pollution at its source wouldn’t require taxpayers to spend such massive amounts on these efforts.
The state would better protect its natural resources with smarter growth management that discouraged sprawl. But the Legislature passed a bill this session that would construct three new toll roads through rural and environmentally sensitive areas, likely leading to new development and pollution.
The roads would extend the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County to the Florida-Georgia line, connect the Florida Turnpike with the parkway and run between Collier and Polk counties. The price tag of the projects could top $10 billion.
The legislation, SB 7068,
would allow the Department of Transportation to approve the routes over the objections of task forces and local officials who review the corridors. It’s no wonder that the Sierra Club of Florida has referred to the legislation as the worst bill for Florida’s environment in more than 20 years.
State lawmakers also passed legislation in the waning hours of the session, HB 7103, that would require citizens who challenge a local government’s development decision to pay the government attorney’s fees if they lose. The provision was approved without committee hearings on a last-minute voice vote without discussion.
The smart-growth group 1000 Friends of Florida said the measure would “gut the ability of Floridians to challenge decisions on growth in their communities,” calling on DeSantis to veto the legislation.
DeSantis started off strong on making the environment a priority. He issued an executive order on his second day of office making changes such as creating a blue-green algae task force, a chief science officer position and an office to prepare coastal communities and habitats for sea-level rise.
But such changes and spending big on cleanup projects must be done in concert with stopping pollution at its source. DeSantis himself said this week that the efforts thus far are “a really good first step” but there is “much more to do.”
If the governor really wants to show bold leadership, he should veto bills that would construct new toll roads and prevent citizens from challenging decisions on growth.
The Gainesville Sun editorial board