Water legislation is beneficial
Gov. Charlie Crist has signed into law Senate Bill 2080, relating to water resources. Although the bill is not perfect, it is my firm belief — a belief that I expressed to the governor — that this bill should be signed for the many benefits it provides to both to the environment and the people of Florida.
Although the new law requires the governing boards of the state's five water management districts to delegate authority to approve permits to their executive directors, each of the water management districts have been — and will continue to be — committed to open government and transparency. There is nothing in SB 2080 that limits the ability of the public from obtaining information about a permit application through a public records request.
While much attention has focused on delegation of authority, many other aspects of the bill offer greater protection for Florida's water resources that have gone largely unnoticed. However, these changes will help ensure the protection and conservation of Florida's water resources. They include:
• Changes to Florida law regarding environmentally friendly landscaping. The use of Florida-friendly landscaping and other measures by homeowners is an effort to conserve Florida's water resources, which is in the best interest of all Floridians.
• Expansion of lands eligible to receive compensation to local governments. This provision puts into Florida law a commitment of the South Florida Water Management District to ensure the smaller Glades communities are not adversely impacted by the U.S. Sugar land acquisition.
• Streamlining of government and saving taxpayer dollars — allowing meetings to be conducted via technology and authorizing the use of certain long-term permits.
• Providing fiscally sound policies that ensure the water management districts do not overextend their financial commitments.
Every drop of water makes a difference to Florida's future, and we must continue to protect and wisely manage our water resources. There is no doubt that Florida's environment is better protected when all stakeholders are involved in the decisionmaking process. As a result, I am committed to preserving the public process throughout this next year. I will continue working with the executive directors of the state's five water management districts to ensure openness and transparency. In addition, I look forward to working with the 2010 Legislature to develop a process that sustains transparency and stakeholder participation.
Michael W. Sole, secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee
Energy bill will sap U.S. economy
The windmill is a fitting symbol of President Barack Obama's "quixotic" energy policy, which through cap and trade will place an energy tax on American businesses and citizens in the midst of the most severe recession in our generation.
This legislation will put a damper on an already weakened economy. It will stifle development of our coal, oil and nuclear energy industries in favor of chimeric clean technologies, which are at best decades away. Hard-pressed U.S. companies will send American jobs to the very countries (India and China) that are responsible for an increasing amount of atmospheric pollution.
U.S. consumers will spend more on energy, which will be increasingly come from foreign suppliers. With less to spend on consumer goods, our economy will continue its downward spiral. All this to achieve a reduction in carbon dioxide which we think, but really aren't sure, creates global warming. Surely this isn't the kind of change we voted for.
John Kriegsmann, Spring Hill
Deniers of facts betray the Earth | June 30, Paul Krugman column
An unwise tax
The last time I checked Paul Krugman was an economist, not an environmental scientist. He should restrict his whining and moralizing to matters of the economy.
The problem I have with cap and trade is that they are now trying to scare us into passing this bill, even while most of us are not convinced of the scientific evidence. For instance, I would say that sunspot activity has a huge effect on our warming and that it is cyclical in nature, meaning we will be cooling again in the future.
Plus, cap and trade will not lower carbon dioxide emissions. In a few years China, India and Africa will all emit more than the United States does and they will not be curtailed.
And the timing of this is crazy. You don't add a huge tax on the economy while we're in a deep recession. The overall effect is that we're only transferring our money to the government — just another tax.
Rick Shale, Homosassa
Nick Anderson political cartoon on Republican "family values" | June 26
A divisive party
Dick Cheney, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh do not speak for me. The GOP has descended into the party of divisiveness, fear, hypocrisy, infidelity, untruth and character assassination.
I am a decorated veteran of foreign wars and a former Republican, and this just does not represent the values of a patriotic American. When people proclaim their desire for the failure of our commander in chief, they are stating their hope for America's failure. Some may even possibly consider this to be treasonous.
At this difficult time, with adversity surrounding our nation, it is time for all to work together — especially elected officials — in returning America to greatness. Do not waste this opportunity. We can do this … yes, we can!
Austin R. Curry, Tampa
The two faces of Sanford | June 30
Words vs. deeds
Maureen Dowd's column Tuesday regarding South Carolina's Republican Gov. Mark Sanford hit the bull's eye. Her description of him as a self-righteous Bible thumper who rails against sinners, while at the same time having an affair, seems to be the model of the Republican Party in recent years.
Their "say one thing, but do another" has worn thin, and finally many voters see the Republicans for what they really are: hypocrites who will say anything to get elected.
George Petrick, Riverview
Sanford, his 'soulmate' and other women July 1, story
Mark Sanford has committed the ultimate political sin: He has become extremely tiresome. I really don't see how he can continue to govern effectively when his constituents and fellow lawmakers have their hands clapped over their ears and their eyes shut whenever he opens his mouth.
Pete Wilford, Holiday