Recently, there have been a slew of editorials and op-eds from across the state critical of Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for dismantling environmental safeguards, decimating water management district budgets and staffs, replacing experienced employees with industry insiders, and failing to adequately protect Florida's natural resources.
Preserving wetlands is preserving our future, Tallahassee Democrat 3.1.13
"As a Soil and Water Conservation supervisor, I can’t help but be disappointed in the direction Florida is taking when it comes to environmental management and protection. The environmental message of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration could not be clearer. Florida’s water management districts have been fiscally starved, and their leadership has been removed. The permitting processes of those districts and of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are now being “streamlined.” More job cuts are coming to both of these agencies in what the Scott administration likes to call 'right sizing.'"
Editorial: Troubling environmental about-face, Tampa Bay Times 2.19.13
"Herschel Vinyard's view that the property was substandard is an about-face from what the department was saying only three years ago, and it calls into question again the commitment he and Gov. Rick Scott have to protecting and preserving Florida's natural resources."
Politicians wake up on environmental issues, Orlando Sentinel 2.16.13
"Generally, the governor and legislators must learn to treat the world as more than an inexhaustible resource. They need to listen to the statesmen and -women who came before them, the residents who live around them and generations ahead who depend upon them."
Beloved Rivers and Springs in North Florida are Drying Up, WCTV 2.14.13
"Everyone who asks for a permit seems to get it. From what we understand, from all the permits that have been granted people can pump more water than there actually is available," said Mayor Miller.
Ron Littlepage: Rick Scott must do more for water quality, Florida Times-Union 2.13.13
"The house may have already been on fire when Scott got there, but it’s up to him to put it out or risk the state’s quality of life and economy. Unfortunately, for the first two years of his administration, Scott has fanned the flames…"
Legislators show no urgency in dealing with Florida springs' problems, Tampa Bay Times 2.11.13
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, contends the Legislature isn't the one that's responsible for fixing what's wrong with the springs. "I'm not a scientist, man," Weatherford said, acknowledging he had heard something about the problems facing the springs but lacked specifics.
Editorial: The leadership drought on water, Ocala Star-Banner 2.7.13
"But where is the lawmaker, the governor, the agency head who will be the unbridled and unyielding champion for Florida water resources? Why are none of our lawmakers, not a one, making water their signature issue when virtually every Floridian is affected? Where is Scott, who touts his business savvy, when we all know it is water that fuels Florida’s economy and always has?"
Editorial: DEP chief is mum, and that speaks volumns, Tampa Bay Times 2.4.13
"This is another egregious example, even for Scott's administration, of freelance governing on the part of a public agency."
Editorial: Florida's twisted waterways polices, Tampa Bay Times 2.3.13
"It is senseless to give the major polluters a green light to foul the very waterways that taxpayers are spending dearly to fix."
Editorial: Saving Florida's rivers, The Miami Herald 2.3.13
"Like Florida’s Everglades, the unique “River of Grass,” many of the state’s other rivers are also beset by pollution and fluctuating water levels thanks to seasonal droughts and increasing demand for drinking water in urban areas. Unlike the Everglades, however, many of these threatened rivers are getting no relief."
We must protect our coveted wild Florida, Floirida Voices 1.31.13
"Instead of protecting Wekiwa Springs, state government’s continued budget cuts and elimination of key programs have placed it in danger. Water flow is at an all-time low and nitrate levels are dangerously high. The Springs are sick and in need of immediate restoration to be saved."
Our rivers and springs are getting sicker, former Fla. Governor says it's because of 'bad policies', LRN Miami Herald News 1.31.13
State should stop using flawed aquifer science, Highlands Today 1.30.13
"The first step in protecting the state's environment is getting the science right. Yet Florida uses a flawed model for assessing how groundwater pumping affects the surrounding landscape. It's irresponsible, and state water managers need to correct it."
Bob Graham and Nathaniel Reed: Bad policies pose historic threats to Florida environment, Orlando Sentinel 1.30.13
"On Gov. Rick Scott's watch, unwise policy decisions, draconian budget cuts and the excessive influence of special interests have put Florida on the brink of losing 40 years of progress on environmental protection, land conservation and growth management. This is bad water-management policy and even worse economic policy for our state."
Florida's aquifer models full of holes, allowing more water permits and pollution, Tampa Bay Times 1.28.13
"But critics argue the computer models are as full of holes as the karst itself. They are so far off-base 'they shouldn't be used to make decisions,' said David Still, former executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District…'Things travel a lot faster than was previously thought,' Weber said. That means that when pollution spills into the ground, 'that stuff can get into the water supply much faster.'"
Bill Belleville: Do we want natural Florida to be wild, or kept on a leash?, Orlando Sentinel 1.27.13
"How much more potable water can we draw from our aquifer before the prehistoric seawater that comprises most of it begins to flow from our faucets? Our water management districts — controlled by a reactionary, grow-at-all-cost governor — continue to issue water permits without a clue to this answer."
Natural Florida needs stewards, not profiteers, Tampa Bay Times 1.6.13
"More business leaders and state lawmakers need to realize that viable tourism is directly connected not only to our pleasant weather but also to the health of our waters, beaches, greenery and clean air. We need leaders who respect this interconnection. They need to be stewards of the environment, not profiteers who destroy and leave nothing in return."
Editorial: Protecting Florida's polluters, Tampa Bay Times 1.5.13
"Few operations have been as compromised under Gov. Rick Scott as Florida's Department of Environmental Protection. An agency that time after time has put the interests of developers and the polluting industry ahead of the state's natural resources struck again last month, laying off nearly 60 employees — many if not most of them responsible for enforcing compliance with environmental regulations. This agency is supposed to protect the environment, not enable its destruction."
Foxes guard the henhouse, Our Opinion: Governor gives industry insiders too much sway over regulation, The Miami Herald 12.31.12
"The purge got rid of regulators who had the backbone to say No to politically connected developers and engineers. With them went decades of experience and commitment to DEP’s mission, basing their decisions in science and research. Now, the department is being populated by administrators who come directly from the industries that regularly seek the DEP’s favor. It’s telling, disturbingly so, that most of the employees dismissed were in the compliance and enforcement divisions."
Editorial: Ignoring the real water problem, Ocala Star Banner 12.31.12
"For too long the districts have treated our aquifer like a blank check whenever anyone came knocking asking to withdraw large quantities of water from the aquifer. The water table measurements don't lie. Our aquifer is declining steadily, yet our water managers keep acting like they always have been with virtually no serious plan for widespread conservation efforts."
Dr. Bob Knight: Restoring Silver Springs: It's a regional challenge, Ocala Star Banner 12.30.12
"Sadly, during their springs meetings, the St. Johns River Water Management District made no decision to restore flows to Silver Springs. District staff continue to insist that groundwater pumping is not a significant part of the documented flow decline and, instead, claim that lower rainfall totals and other natural causes are responsible for reduced spring flows."
Editorial: Cleaning up Florida's water, finally, Tampa Bay Times 12.28.12
"The federal government told the states in 1998 to devise clean-up standards or it would do the job for them. The announcement several days ago could bring an end to more than a decade of foot-dragging by both sides."
Former State Senator Paula Dockery (R): Losing 'Protection' in environmental agency, Hernando Today 12.28.12
"It is sheer folly to think that protecting the environment is somehow responsible for killing jobs or hurting business when, in fact, it does the opposite….After decades of good environmental stewardship under governors of both parties — Graham, Chiles, Martinez, Bush, Crist — many of our successes are being dismantled in a mere two years. A plea to the governor and the Department of Environmental Protection secretary: Please put the "protection" back in the Department of Environmental Protection."
Editorial: Threats to waterways and the economy, Tampa Bay Online 12.28.12
"Many of the state's springs also are badly polluted or experiencing reduced flows. The smart — the conservative — approach to such a looming crisis would be to take action to prevent further damage and avoid a costly disaster. But in the last couple of years Scott and lawmakers have slashed the state's water districts, eliminated state growth laws and cut back on regulations and regulators."
Editorial: Purge at DEP, Gainesville Sun 12.28.12
"Under Gov. Rick Scott, environmental regulation and the protection of Florida's much abused water resources has become a joke. Scott has gutted growth management laws, fought off federal water quality regulations, stripped the water management districts of funding and, now, purged the DEP of its most senior and experienced regulators."
Editorial: On the Surface, Gainesville Sun 12.27.12
"On the surface looking for big engineering solutions to falling aquifer levels is a costly and unneeded diversion to Florida's real water problem: We're using too much of it."
Editorial: Protect Florida's rivers and springs, Sun Sentinel 12.27.12
"Despite such dire reports on the condition of Florida waterways, there's been no sign of urgency in the state capital. Last month a federal judge had to order state and federal environmental agencies to implement water pollution limits that have been on the table since 1998. A movement is growing among citizens to force lawmakers to restore the funding they've cut from Florida Forever. Lawmakers also have slashed budgets for the state's regional water management agencies. They can't even settle on a way to reduce septic tank pollution. Time is running short for a revival of the environmental spirit that used to motivate leaders in both parties."
Editorial: Beneath our feet, Ocala Star-Banner 12.26.12
"Simply, Florida's vast underground aquifer is under siege as a result of overpumping, nutrient pollution, saltwater intrusion and other negative impacts brought about by our state's massive growth and needs."
Florida environmental agency lays off longtime employees and hires from regulated industries, Tampa Bay Times 12.25.12
"I've seen the way politics has influenced that agency in the past, but never like this," Kovach said. "It's not about compliance (with the rules). It's about making things look like they're compliant."
Editorial: Florida needs a vocal champion environmental champion, Tampa Bay Times 12.22.12
"Vinyard has not effectively addressed reducing the source of the algae blooms. The secretary needs to do more. Vinyard should be an aggressive and proactive voice in protecting one of the state's treasured natural resources. He needs to be at the forefront in educating the public about the harmful effects of fertilizer runoff while addressing the unintended consequences of unfettered development on the environment."