Eric Lynn announces policy proposal: ‘Preventing Another Piney Point’

Lynn, Eric - 6
'Knowing that our sea life, waterways, and more here in Pinellas County were damaged ... due to ignorance and negligence by the FDEP is unacceptable.'

Congressional candidate Eric Lynn has announced his campaign’s first policy proposal focused on protecting Florida’s natural resources.

The three-pronged proposal, coined “Preventing Another Piney Point Disaster,” suggests steps to ensure the state’s coast is not burdened with more pollution spills. The Democratic candidate brings the policy framework after Tampa Bay reporting its worst red tide event in 50 years last July, just months after failure at Manatee County’s Piney Point Phosphate Plant led to more than 200 million gallons of contaminated water being dumped into the bay.

“As a native of St. Petersburg, the Piney Point disaster was personal to me,” Lynn said in a statement. “Knowing that our sea life, waterways, and more here in Pinellas County were damaged in ways that we still cannot accurately measure due to ignorance and negligence by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is unacceptable. On Day 1 in Congress I will file legislation to make sure nothing like the Piney Point disaster ever happens in Florida again.”

The first portion of the policy proposal focuses on preventing another similar spill. Lynn says he will file legislation to move the responsibility for all relevant plans for hazardous storage to the Army Corp of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency. That would shift the responsibility away from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which Lynn asserts “has shown they cannot be trusted to oversee hazardous storage facilities.”

Lynn also proposes ending the practice of allowing such facilities to be used as for-profit assets by the state and out-of-state contractors.

Next, Lynn wants repercussions for those responsible for Piney Point by issuing harsh penalties to HRK Holdings LLC, the holding company that purchased the site.

His final proposal is to help recover from Piney Point by seeking grants for universities and other scientific research facilities to measure the impact the spill had on the Tampa Bay community.

The proposal received praise from the chair of the Pinellas chapter of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, Cathy Harrelson.

“This is the kind of leadership and environmental policy we need in Florida and in Congress,” Harrelson said in a statement. “Piney Point and other past or pending environmental disasters must be addressed — for our health and for our economy.”

Lynn is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, facing state Reps. Ben Diamond and Michele Rayner-Goolsby in the Democratic Primary.

The CD 13 race will be closely watched in the 2022 midterms. Candidates are running to replace outgoing Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist as he runs for Governor. However, the competitiveness of the district ultimately will depend on the new congressional map approved by the state. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ current proposal changes the makeup of the district from a seat President Joe Biden won by 4 points to one Donald Trump carried by nearly 7 points.

The Democratic nominee will go on to face the winner of the crowded Republican Primary. The GOP field includes former prosecutor Kevin Hayslett, nonprofit founder Audrey Henson, Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna, Republican strategist Amanda Makki and Christine Quinn. Makki lost the Republican Primary to Luna in 2020.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].

One comment

  • Bank Bench Forever

    April 25, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    These are state issues, not federal ones. He needs to concentrate on his business, before Ben goes past him like he was a mudder in the Derby. He wants to address an issue, ask him this: given the near certainty of a broad Republican sweep this fall, how are you as a minority member going to work with McCarthy; unless you will perhaps be willing to sit on the floor and weep and roar like your colleagues.

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