Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Real solutions for ending algae blooms

Gov. Rick Scott is once again shifting blame, misidentifying the problem and proposing the wrong solution for the massive algae bloom that is coating beaches and making Florida look like the wrong place to spend a summer vacation. Scott and the Legislature need to get serious before polluted waters take an even heavier toll on public health, tourism and property values. They can start by buying land to help clean up the Everglades, and by spending money and adopting regulations to clean up farming, septic tanks and other practices that contribute to the decline of Florida's environment.

Scott announced last week he would ask the Legislature to set aside money to clean up the Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee River, and to help property owners who want to convert from septic tanks to sewers. The move came after the governor declared an emergency for four counties in South Florida in response to a bloom so thick it has prompted the closure of several beaches.

Unusually heavy rains this year have forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to redirect billions of gallons of dirty water from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, a flood control effort aimed at stabilizing lake levels and protecting property owners to the south. Scott has repeatedly blamed the federal government for failing to shore up a dike around the lake. The real problem is the dirty water in the lake itself, the state's refusal to stop sugar growers and others from further polluting the watershed, and policies Scott and the Legislature enacted that make the crisis worse.

This governor, after all, cut support for conservation and clean water programs, forced huge cuts in the regional water management districts and fought Washington for years on behalf of polluters to weaken the state's clean-water rules. While Scott would help homeowners shift from septic tanks to sewer, the program would be voluntary and local governments would pay half the bill. Scott's approach is more spin than substance; poorer counties won't have the money to participate. And it still doesn't compensate for Scott killing a statewide septic tank inspection program shortly after he first entered office.

The incoming state Senate president, Joe Negron of Stuart, has it right: "Make no mistake about it: this algae bloom is not caused by septic tanks." While Negron said replacing septic tanks will help, he is working on a proposal for the state to buy land to store, filter and move the lake water south. Former Gov. Charlie Crist arranged a deal to buy sugar land for water storage, but Scott killed that plan, too.

It remains to be seen whether Negron and other Republican leaders in Florida are serious about confronting the powerful sugar industry about its farming practices, buying the land near the lake for water storage or tightening regulations that now allow for pollutants to be pumped into the lake.

Any septic tank inspection and replacement program must be mandatory and adequately funded by the state. Lawmakers need to revisit the massive water bill they passed this year and institute new water standards and cleanup deadlines. State leaders should do what they can to persuade Congress to end federal price supports for sugar, which subsidize a dirty industry and force taxpayers to clean up the ecological mess. This is a tall order for politicians addicted to campaign donations from Big Sugar. But if Scott and others are going to start pointing the finger, they should at least be honest enough to face a mirror.

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Wednesday’s letters: How home rule can help fight Red Tide

Red Tide on march | Sept. 18How home rule can help fight Red TideAt the end of 2005, as Red Tide ravaged the beaches and intracoastal waterways of Southwest Florida, volunteers from the Suncoast Sierra Club formed a coastal task force to begin de...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Editorial cartoons from Times wires
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18

Column: We’re measuring the economy all wrong

Ten years after the collapse of Lehman Bros., the official economic statistics — the ones that fill news stories, television shows and presidential tweets — say that the U.S. economy is fully recovered.The unemployment rate is lower tha...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18