Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Cleaning up Florida's water, finally

The new water standards recently announced by the federal government finally should mark a new era in cleaning up Florida's polluted lakes, streams and coastal areas. For the first time in 14 years, the state and the federal government are on the same page in committing to curb the nutrient runoff from farms, homes, utilities and big business that chokes the waterways, damages the drinking water supply, and harms public health and the economy. Federal officials must press the state to follow through on its obligations and resist any political pressure to pull back. But the announcement is a big step toward transforming a courtroom battle into a cleanup effort.

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved new state rules aimed at limiting the pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus entering the state's waterways. The nutrients spew from farms and cattle operations, dairy plants, golf courses, homes and industrial sources into streams, lakes and estuaries. They spark toxic algae blooms that foul the water supply, cause rashes and respiratory problems among swimmers and boaters, kill fish and damage public and private property.

The federal government told the states in 1998 to devise clean-up standards or it would do the job for them. The announcement several days ago could bring an end to more than a decade of foot-dragging by both sides. The EPA approved the state's limits for some estuaries and inland waters and said it would develop federal standards for the remaining waterways by next fall. The federal agency, though, said it would work with Florida over the next year to give the state another chance to write statewide criteria of its own. And the EPA announced it would give Florida latitude in addressing a fix for downstream pollution.

Environmental advocates hailed the announcement as a victory for public health and a vindication of a robust federal role in moving Florida and other states to address long-standing pollution problems. This should force the big polluters and their Republican allies in Tallahassee to switch from characterizing this as a states' rights issue and overstating the cost of clean water to actually devising a plan in concert with Washington to protect the public and the state's economy.

The EPA will need to hang tough. Republican state leaders have shown they intend to do the minimum required by the Clean Water Act and the federal courts to preserve the natural resources so essential to growth, tourism and the commercial fisheries. The EPA made clear it reserved the right to move ahead with its own antipollution standards should the state show bad faith. The agency needs to back up that promise by ensuring over the coming year that Florida moves to adopt meaningful standards for protecting inland and coastal waterways.

This is a major step in placing new limits on the level of pollution in the state's water bodies. And Florida's experience will be something of a model as the EPA works with other states to develop comprehensive water cleanup campaigns. The state will need to follow through with money and tighter regulations to begin reversing the damage. And the EPA will need to ensure that the state's cleanup targets meet the spirit of the Clean Water Act. Florida's future depends on it.

Comments
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18