Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Projects will restore Gulf Coast habitats

The recovery from the BP oil spill took a big step last month with the announcement of $100 million in restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. The projects in five states, including Florida, will go a long way toward strengthening the gulf ecosystem and the region's economy. Florida should keep the focus on ecological health, coastal habitats and the fisheries as it steers new work into the pipeline.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced awards for 22 projects across the gulf, including six in Florida, in the first round of restoration work funded by a settlement of criminal charges in the BP case. The list includes tens of millions of dollars to rebuild wetlands, restore the bird population and the fisheries, and repair oyster reefs and marshes.

The foundation is starting off on the right note in doling out the $2.5 billion the agency was awarded as part of the $4 billion settlement. These projects will help the gulf recover from the 2010 spill, provide a baseline for future restoration projects and strengthen the gulf's ability to withstand any such disaster in the future. Officials were right to take the long view by investing in design, river flow and coastal protection projects. These are down payments the foundation can build on in future years as new restoration funding comes to the table.

The Florida work is especially well targeted. About $4.2 million will go to enhance and improve the management of 3,000 acres of degraded oyster habitat in Apalachicola Bay, whose fishery accounts for 90 percent of the oysters in Florida. Another $3 million will track the health of reef fisheries, which is critical to sustaining red snapper and other species. And $1.5 million will go to eliminating light pollution on Panhandle beaches, which can disorient sea turtles, keeping nesting females and hatchlings from making it back to the sea. That's a welcome investment for a population hard hit by the spill, and for a state that hosts more than 90 percent of all loggerhead turtles nesting in the continental United States.

The nation has focused much of its attention in the past three years on the economic damage of the spill. With these awards, the foundation is moving to address the ecological impact, too, which is key to the region's economy. As officials look to spend another $340 million over five years in Florida, the priority should be on projects that provide a scientific base for restoration efforts. The worst environmental disaster in this country's history should at least lead to equally ground-breaking changes in how the United States manages its natural resources. These monetary awards are a good start.

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Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
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: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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
Updated: 04/23/18
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