Monday, December 11, 2017
Editorials

For Florida, environment a hot issue

It's not among the most discussed topics in the race for president, but the environment remains a hot issue in Florida. The state and federal governments have invested heavily in restoring the Everglades. Tallahassee and Washington remain in a fight over clean water rules. And Floridians understand the necessity of protecting beaches, preserving wetlands and improving air quality. Mitt Romney should spend at least as much time talking about those issues as about expanding oil drilling on federal lands and offshore.

Romney has not spelled out an environmental agenda, offering only a broad narrative that environmental regulations are job killers and that clean energy projects need to develop on their own. He would amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating global-warming carbon emissions. Romney said he would reduce regulations and fast-track the permitting process, and require that any new environmental restrictions take into account the costs for industry to comply. He also would end tax credits for wind farms — though not similar subsidies for oil and gas — and roll back incentives that have helped jump-start the alternative energy industry.

This is the wrong approach for a coastal state whose economy depends on sustaining a stressed and vulnerable ecosystem. At the very least, Romney should support a continuation of the federal-state Everglades restoration project. He should underscore that his call for budget austerity will not endanger the conservation of a watershed that provides one in three Floridians their drinking water — and for millions, flood protection and a livelihood. The campaign also needs to explain how it would recast the EPA, which Romney has singled out for criticism as "the most active regulator" under the Obama administration.

Romney's broader promise to undo a regulatory environment that he says drives up costs and destroys jobs also has serious implications for Florida, given the role the federal government plays in enforcing clean water and antipollution laws across state lines. He criticized Obama for holding up oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico as the federal government worked to institute new safety reforms in the wake of the BP oil disaster. And would Romney's more accommodating stance give a green light to his political supporters in the state — notably, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi — to keep fighting Washington over the enforcement of clean water standards in Florida?

Floridians rely on a healthy ecosystem to protect the state from a range of natural disasters, serve a growing population and to keep millions employed in fishing, agriculture, tourism, construction and the services industries. Forward-looking Republicans in the state such as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam are leading the search for ways to develop renewable energy. Romney should realize that pitting regulations against jobs isn't a clear winner in a state where residents have a vested stake in standing for the environment in a tough economy. He would broaden his party's appeal and make inroads with independents by realizing that his environmental agenda still has room for a few good policy proposals.

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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasnít enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, itís looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the cityís dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17