Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Opinion

The mauling of Florida's environment

Let's take a minute to assess how the Legislature would like to maul the environment.

So far this session bills have been proposed to: steal public lands and waters; drill for oil and gas on public lands; put advertising signs on greenways and trails; eliminate septic tank inspections; eliminate concurrency for schools and transportation for new development; support water quality rules that will allow continued nutrient degradation of our water; move control of water management funding to Tallahassee; and stop registering greenhouse gas emitters. Also, funding has been withheld for Florida Forever environmental land acquisition and Everglades restoration, two programs that have been the hallmark of Florida's environmental programs for decades.

Every company, business or landowner in the state of Florida, represented by high-paid lobbyists, who wants something that otherwise would not be legal or acceptable has come out from under a rock with a bill written to get what he wants at the expense of the public. It is insane.

Legislators are acting like the boys in Lord of the Flies. They need adult supervision. Hypocrisy is rampant. The Climate Protection Act doesn't protect us from our changing climate. It undoes more of what Gov. Charlie Crist got passed to make Florida a leader in responding to climate change. Environmental Resource Permitting makes it easier to get a permit and does not advance the protection of our natural resources as the name might imply.

The sad thing is that the public understands very little about what is happening. But what is going on is bad for Florida. It is bad for you, and over time the cost of doing business in this state will increase because of the decisions made by this Legislature.

Your waters will continue to deteriorate. Do you like beach closures Memorial Day weekend or on July Fourth because of high bacterial counts or slimy green algae? North Florida's waters will end up in South Florida. Hope you don't mind paying for water supply for Polk County. Your taxes will go up as you are asked to cover the cost and impacts of development that developers will no longer pay. Oil and gas wells will appear on public lands and the associated pollution will make it very unpleasant and unhealthy to visit these sites, not to mention that an oil well will never look or smell like a tree.

Advertisers will place sponsorship signs at trail heads and you will be reminded to eat your Twinkie. And, to heck with a zen experience in state parks. There will be no more public land acquisition, and paving will gradually stretch from coast to coast and north to south and with all the paving will come increasing electric bills. You think all this is an exaggeration? I wouldn't bet against these predictions.

Here is the real rub. Florida has some serious environmental problems that need to be fixed, but our Legislature is busy undoing the past 40 years of environmental safeguards that have served us well. This anti-environmental agenda is bad for Florida's economy. It is bad for jobs. It is bad for our children. In the future as things worsen in this state, as they will with these kinds of bills, businesses will not want to locate here. Where is Gov. Rick Scott in all this? Oh that's right: He hasn't read the bills yet.

Pam McVety worked for the state of Florida for 30 years and retired from the Department of Environmental Protection in 2003. She has a master's degree in zoology from the University of South Florida. She is a member of the Florida Conservation Coalition, a biologist and native Floridian.

Comments
Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Forceful words are coming from the pope’s pen as well as pulpits around Tampa Bay: The sexual abuse of minors, which proliferated for decades within the Roman Catholic Church, were not merely sins but crimes whose repercussions are still being felt b...
Published: 08/20/18
Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Within weeks of taking office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott made one of the worst decisions of his administration and refused $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Within months of leaving office, the governor...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Local governments across the land can find plenty of reasons to go after the drug industry over the crisis of opioid addiction.Hillsborough County can find more reasons than most.• In 2016, the county led the state with 579 babies born addicted to dr...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

The environmental crisis in South Florida has fast become a political crisis. Politicians in both parties are busy blaming one another for the waves of toxic algae blooms spreading out from Lake Okeechobee and beyond, fouling both coasts and damaging...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/20/18
Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

It is real news that the Hillsborough County School District said this week it will accelerate testing for lead in drinking water and release the results after the Tampa Bay Times reported testing would take years and that until we asked families wer...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/16/18

Bumping into GOP cowardice on guns

One small island of sanity in the generally insane ocean of American gun culture is the near-complete federal ban on civilian possession of fully automatic weapons — machine guns.The nation got a bitter taste last year of what we’d be facing on a reg...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

The revelation that three people in Pinellas County have contracted the measles virus should be a wake-up call to everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t been — and to implore parents to immunize their kids. Contagious diseases such as measles can...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

A good reputation can vanish overnight, which is why Habitat for Humanity of Hills-borough County made a smart decision by announcing it would seek to buy back 12 mortgages it sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping properties. The arrange...
Published: 08/14/18
Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

40%of Americans who were eligible to vote for president in 2016 just didn’t bother. That number dwarfs the portion of all eligible voters who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump — 27.6 percent — or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton, 28.8 percent...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made a reasonable decision to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter in last month’s deadly Clearwater convenience store parking lot confrontation. The shooting, which erupted over use of a handicap parkin...
Published: 08/13/18