Rick Scott holding a press conference to declare he wants to clean Florida’s water is sort of like Darth Vader declaring he supports intergalactic peace.
Irony is aplenty when Scott announces he wants to spend millions to clean Florida’s waterways.
Put aside the point that the last time Scott touted his “record funding” for environmental protection, Politifact called it “False,” pointing out “Scott doesn’t beat Crist’s record.” Or that no less an environmental champion than former Gov. Bob Graham said, “on Gov. Rick Scott’s watch, unwise policy decisions, draconian budget cuts and the excessive influence of special interests have put Florida on the brink of losing 40 years of progress on environmental protection, land conservation and growth management.”
Whatever Scott proposes to spend won’t be nearly enough to clean up the pollutants he is already responsible for.
Just this week, the Miami Herald reported that after his secretive hunting trip at Big Sugar’s King Ranch hunting resort, Scott appointed an executive of the Ranch and Big Sugar to the governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District. That Board is responsible for overseeing how much pollution Big Sugar can leak into the very waters he will now regulate.
And that wasn’t even the first time Scott put the foxes in charge of the hen house. Another Scott appointee to the same board was fined for running a trash incinerator that was emitting mercury, a highly toxic metal.
Scott totally eviscerated the Department of Environmental Protection efforts to catch polluters by firing personnel who enforce clean water laws and by hiring people who came from the companies DEP regulates. Scott also repealed more than 300 DEP rules, many of which were intended to protect the public from over-development and environmental overreach.
The result has been horrible policy that has resulted in really polluted water. In Charlie Crist’s last year in office, the DEP brought 2,289 actions to protect Florida’s natural treasures; the next year after Scott cut staff and changed policy, that number plummeted to fewer than 800.
Last year Scott (and his cabinet) approved the request of two agricultural companies to pump even more pollution into the Everglades cleanup area. As the Tampa Bay Times said, “It is senseless to give the major polluters a green light to foul the very waterways that taxpayers are spending dearly to fix.”
Heck, Scott himself is invested in a company that is involved in oil drilling and fracking in the Everglades. He’s opposed tougher clean-water standards, supports offshore oil drilling, and is invested in a company building a gas pipeline through the middle of the state.
So when Scott announces he wants to clean and protect your water, remember why it’s dirty and from whom he is protecting it!
Dan Gelber served as a Democrat in both the Florida House and the Florida Senate. He supports Charlie Crist for governor. Gelber practices law in Miami. Column courtesy of Context Florida.