Touring Lee County waters, Charlie Crist promises environmental enforcement
Charlie Crist tours Lee County waterways. image via Jacob Ogles

Crist 1 web res
'I don’t think what this administration has done on the environment has worked at all.'

From the back of a vessel just off Sanibel Island, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist decried any suggestion Florida boasts some great plan to protect the environment.

“I don’t think what this administration has done on the environment has worked at all,” Crist told reporters.

He’s challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis next year and trying to undercut]’ any narrative the sitting Republican Governor has been an environmental champion. While DeSantis has devoted millions to water restoration, he doesn’t keep scientific leaders in charge of the Department of Environmental Protection and won’t provide the agency with any teeth to enforce legislation, Crist argued.

The Democratic Congressman and former Republican Governor grimaces at a lack of enforcement of environmental regulations. His face guffaws at two words: presumed compliance.

It’s the phrase Ryan Orgera, CEO of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, offered up when asked about the status quo as far as developers allowing stormwater into rivers and estuaries. Orgera scoffs, too.

“Which industry in the history of the world self-regulates that way?” Orgera asked.

Crist said that’s an outrageous policy.

“You don’t presume anything when you talk about the Sunshine State,” he said. “You make sure what’s happening is happening. And you trust, but you verify.”

Crist started Wednesday at his St. Petersburg home as red tide grips the city, followed by stops in Sarasota and Lee counties.

In Sarasota, he unveiled his own “Clean Water For All” policy plan that focuses on reducing runoff and algal blooms, converting septic use to sewers, and expanding water management and wetland preservation while bolstering the DEP with better enforcement powers.

It’s an environmental message tailored for those environmental advocates frustrated that the state, while investing heavily in cleaning up past messes, asks little in terms of cutting off nutrient flow, pollution and further compromise of waterways.

On a trip through the intercoastal waterways of Sanibel and Captiva and into the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River, Crist, along with invited press, rode along with SCCF scientists. The boat stopped by sensors in the water that measure the level and flow of nutrients, Dr. Eric Milbrandt fished one such device from the water to show how it works.

The sensors show that while nutrients flow in force when Lake Okeechobee discharges into the Caloosahatchee, there’s actually more nutrient loading that comes from development enclaves along the river. Much of it comes from rural counties with little money to spend on restoration or coastal reconstruction.

Data also shows heavy rains will release a significant amount of stormwater that flows from the streets and home lots in Cape Coral and Fort Myers into the river.

Asked about water discharge schedules for Lake Okeechobee and what what management schedule should be considered by the federal government there, Crist points to the plan and stresses the need to reduce stormwater runoff and cut off nutrients that would feed blue-green algae blooms or red tide the likes of which are ravaging Tampa Bay now.

Crist said the problem needs to be tackled on all fronts, but the state in the decade since he occupied the Governor’s Mansion has instead reduced oversight.

Notably, when Gov. Rick Scott succeeded Crist as Governor in 2011, the new Governor quickly eliminated the Department of Community Affairs. That provided a level of state oversight on major developments to ensure those won approval in compliance with the law. DeSantis has not reinstated the DCA nor any replacement.

“Part of (the) ‘Clean Water for All’ plan is to have more regulations that are smart,” Crist said. The state still wants to have development, and to have agriculture thrive, he said, but enforcing laws will ensure that can be done without threatening the environment or the economy.

“You know, I moved to Florida in 1960 and this place is amazing,” he said. “It’s beautiful and I think it’s the best place in the world, but not if we don’t protect it.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


5 comments

  • zhombre

    July 14, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah elect me blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah … Charlie Crist is perpetually running for higher office and adopting any part affiliation and demagoguing any issue in pursuit of that goal. What a soulless creep.

  • zhombre

    July 14, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah elect me blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah … Charlie Crist is perpetually running for higher office and adopting any party affiliation and demagoguing any issue in pursuit of that goal. What a soulless creep.

    • Tom Palmer

      July 14, 2021 at 5:23 pm

      Who in the GOP cares about the environment anyway. It just hurts business. Clean air? Clean water? Why bother? DeSantis is weak on this issue when it comes down to anything substantive. Crist may make this an issue if he keeps going.

      • zhombre

        July 14, 2021 at 6:31 pm

        LOL. Better slice your baloney thin, Tommykins, because it won’t last that long. Charlie Crist defines lack of substance.

  • Ocean Joe

    July 14, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    Point 5 of Chuck’s Clean Water plan: protect the springs. The current mismanagement of this natural resource that belongs to all of us is an obscenity. The fox are in the henhouse as the GOP appointees to the WMDs put business first and science and the environment last.

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories