|FLORIDA'S NATURAL ENVIRONMENT THREATENED|
|Written by Marjorie Holt|
|Sunday, February 20 2011|
Running on a platform of "Let's Get to Work", Governor Rick Scott's budget proposals seek to dismantle important environmental protections that have grave significance for every Floridian.
Clean water, growth management, natual land preservation and regulations that help to make Florida a vibrant place to live and work are perceived by some political leaders as "job killers".
Read Michael Goforth's article to get a good insight as to what's at stake for our future.
Michael Goforth: Florida's natural environment threatened by anti-regulation governor
Saturday, February 19, 2011
It was a dazzling aerial display. Dozens of brown pelicans individually glided bare inches over the waters of the cove in the Indian River Lagoon, then soared high into the blue sky, tucked their wings and then plummeted like missiles, straight down into the water, sending up splashes like bombs going off on the water's surface. Again and again and again, the explosive splashes burst over the surface as the pelicans hit beaks-first in their eager grab for food.
Usually when pelicans gather on the water, you can look for dolphins to be nearby. The pelicans scavenge for morsels left behind by the sloppy-eating dolphins. The dolphins smoothly cruise through the cove in groups of two or three. Hardly ever is there a lone dolphin. As the dolphins slide through the water, the hungry pelicans follow their paths.
This is part of life on the water, part of what makes our natural environment so precious, so much a part of our lives.
Are we willing to kill off this treasure for some perceived short-term gain, which, in reality, is little or no gain at all?
Some are willing and, unfortunately, they include some of Florida's most powerful political leaders. When Gov. Rick Scott talks about Florida's environment, he isn't talking about our natural environment, our rivers and lakes, our wildlife, our beaches, our ecologically sensitive lands. He's talking about our business environment and he wants to make business a priority over our nature, including our water and air. He wants to help businesses so they might create jobs at whatever costs there may be to our natural environment, our quality of life and our future.
The governor wants to stop the federal Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing Clean Water Act regulations using scientific standards as part of a settlement with state environmental groups over failure to enforce the law. The governor and his cronies in the business community claim that meeting the standards will be too expensive. The goal of the regulations is to reduce pollution of Florida's waterways that has resulted in fish kills, diseases and loss of wildlife habitats. And the elected opponents of the rules are using our own money as taxpayers to assist the polluters in their efforts to continue their polluting of our waters.
But Gov. Scott goes even further in his attack on our natural environment.
In his budget proposal, he recommends almost $150 million in cuts to the state Environmental Protection Agency, $23 million in cuts to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a 25 percent cut in spending by the state's water management districts and a drastic reduction in state funding for Everglades restoration, the termination of the Florida Forever conservation land-purchase program, and the virtual elimination of the Department of Community Affairs, which oversees large land-development projects that have regional impact.
Scott has called DCA a jobs-killing agency. Speaking last week to DCA employees who may soon lose their jobs, he asked, "Why are there so many rules? ... Name one regulation you couldn't live without."
That's simply stunning.
Charles Pattison, president and CEO of 1000 Friends of Florida, the nonprofit organization that watches over growth management issues, said last week, "Florida's environment and quality of life are this state's greatest economic development tools. Corporations do not want to relocate to states with crowded roads, poor schools and insufficient drinking water. Tourists will not want to visit a Florida despoiled with polluted rivers and overdeveloped beaches. Agriculture will not survive if its lands are taken over by sprawling subdivisions."
Continuing, Pattison said, "We understand the very real need to create new jobs in Florida and support new developments in appropriate locations. But Florida's growth management process was developed to address very real issues facing this state, issues that continue to this day."
I worry about our pelicans and our dolphins, our manatees and our turtles. But, I worry more about our own health if environmental regulations are tossed aside merely because some greedy companies don't care if they abuse our environment if it may mean more profits. I worry, too, about the kind of natural environment we will leave for our children and grandchildren.
Florida is at a crossroads. Bad decisions made today may haunt us for the rest of our lifetimes.
|Last Updated ( Sunday, February 20 2011 )|
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