Sunday, October 21, 2018
Editorials

Florida's twisted waterways policy

It is senseless to give the major polluters a green light to foul the very waterways that taxpayers are spending dearly to fix. But that is what Gov. Rick Scott and the state's Republican leadership continue to do in a twisted cycle of taking with one hand and giving with the other. A governor who has just recommitted to spending money on Everglades restoration projects should recognize the inconsistency.

About two weeks ago, the governor and Cabinet unanimously approved the request of two agriculture companies to continue farming state land under terms that would pump even more pollution into the Everglades cleanup area. The state is also beginning to tally the costs of ignoring the degradation of Florida's springs, with cleanup costs estimated at $122 million (just to start). That hefty price is a natural result in a state that has weakened clean-water efforts for years. And it reflects the damage-now, pay-later environmental policy that harms the state's economy.

State officials defended the no-bid lease deals with A. Duda and Sons and Florida Crystals, contending the farming operations would not interfere with Everglades restoration. But environmental groups note the duration of the 30-year arrangements could tie up restoration projects down the road. They also open an opportunity to pour thousands of additional tons of phosphorus-laden fertilizer into the South Florida basin that federal and state taxpayers are spending billions of dollars to restore.

The state is causing the same self-inflicted injury to Florida's springs. A preliminary list by the Department of Environmental Protection puts the rehab bill at $122 million, 10 times what the state spent on the springs last year and four times the budget for Everglades restoration. Scott disbanded an effort established by then-Gov. Jeb Bush in 2000 to explore and address the causes of springs pollution. The GOP-led Legislature repealed a law last year that required inspections of leaky septic tanks. But now the state is spending tax money to get property owners to close down those tanks and hook up to municipal sewer systems.

The state will never get ahead of a cycle that gives polluters more license to foul the water while squeezing money to clean it up. And the costs to restore these waterways do not include compounding losses to public health, private property, tourism, commercial fisheries or new water supply projects that become necessary because of the degradation of the water supply. Scott and the Legislature need to bring environmental policy and budgeting much more in line so the two work in concert and not at odds with each other.

Comments
Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Sharing memories of the “wish book,” shopping on Saturday nights and many memorable purchases
Published: 10/19/18

Editorial: FBI should take a hard look at CareerSource

The scrutiny now extends to the state agency that oversees the local jobs centers
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Experts are right that Hurricane Michael should force a review of Florida’s building standards. While newer homes generally fared better than older ones, the state needs to reassess the risks posed by high winds and storm surge.
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

You wouldn't skip a trip to the gas pump, would you?Then don't miss the chance to cast your general election ballot, either, when Hillsborough County opens its many early voting sites Monday morning for a two-week engagement.If you do your homework a...
Published: 10/19/18

Editorial: Glazer Children’s Museum quickly regained its step

Jennifer Stancil was terminated from her $169,280 a year job last month as museum president and chief executive, a post she held for three years. Exactly why remained a mystery to those outside the museum.
Published: 10/18/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Twenty-seven journalists have been murdered so far this year just for doing their jobs, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That number doesn’t even include Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident journalist who hasn’t been ...
Published: 10/17/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

The Florida Supreme Court reached the right conclusion by ruling that the next governor has the authority to appoint three new justices to the court rather than departing Gov. Rick Scott. That is practical and reasonable, and it reflects the will of ...
Published: 10/16/18
Updated: 10/19/18

Editorial: Housecleaning was necessary at Clearwater parks department

The theft of money and a hostile atmosphere show a city department out of control
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump. The Palm Harbor Republican says he pays more attention to local issues than to the president, claims he doesnȁ...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation's eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales tax would create stronger, safer schools and a healthier learning environment for mor...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/19/18