Sunday, February 03, 2013

Why should any environmentalist be cheering in Florida? by gimleteye

According to newspaper reports, environmentalists are "cheering" Gov. Rick Scott's request to allocate $60 million for next fiscal year. The newspapers -- to the point of universal and unquestioning acceptance -- cite a return to less dire fiscal times. Truth be told, $60 million is less than a drop in the bucket and in current dollars, far below allocations to the Everglades by the legislature in the late 1990's, during the Bush years.

The stories of unrelenting pollution of Florida's waters -- not just the Everglades -- keep piling up. The Orlando Sentinel's recent series on Florida's disappearing springs, and the failure of state legislators to do anything substantive to stop the wreckage -- is just the latest; no different from the excellent series by the Naples Daily News' Cathy Zollo on Florida's polluted waters in the early 2000's or the Washington Post's Michael Grunwald or the ongoing, excellent work by Craig Pittman, of the Tampa Bay Times.

In the Tampa Bay Times, Eric Draper of Audubon of Florida said recently, "It's starting to put environmental spending back on track where it used to be ... Gov. Scott is starting to make the environment a priority. This does seem like a different Gov. Scott. We're seeing his office listening more."

Electioneering aside, if one were a betting man it would be safe to wager Florida's badly degraded waters are exactly the outcome sought by special interests. They depend on shifting the costs of pollution for their profits. Those costs, notwithstanding the whining and complaining by polluters, are being paid by the public or will be, eventually. (That is the story, by the way, of the $3 billion upgrade needed for just Miami-Dade's wastewater treatment system.) Where, one wonders, is the public outrage? For certain, polluters -- like Big Sugar -- are counting on peace and calm. Having Florida environmentalists "cheer" the paltry leavings of the legislature and an irresponsible governor must be music to the billionaires sipping cocktails and supplying entertainment to members of Congress at sheltered hideaways in the Dominican Republic.

The economic crisis, caused by greed, recklessness, and blind to risk, inflicted considerable damage to the infrastructure funded by state government in service of the Everglades. Gov. Scott, for example, used the budget crisis as justification to literally gut the science capacity and research staff of the South Florida Water Management District. That $60 million is not recovering the knowledge base, any time soon.

One wonders what kind of message environmentalists are sending to newspapers by "cheering". On the one hand, it cannot be such a hostile political climate that fair criticism must be shackled and put in the basement like an angry, barking dog. On the other hand, since tolerance of the public for polluters seems bottomless -- with offenders easily winning re-election as incumbents -- some environmental staffers may feel it is best to ride out the storm. But good God, what was ever achieved riding the coat-tails of the corrupt?


Geniusofdespair said...

I wish they wouldn't lump a lot of us in with Eric Draper.

Malagodi said...

The depth of our thinking
Matches the depth of our topsoil.

Anonymous said...

The State of Florida will not be coming to the rescue to pay for all of the infrastructure neglect at the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department. No, there will be pressure to up your rates, even though the department should be on management watch for allowing this situation to develop. To build support for a rate increase, the Department is hosting a Contractors Party in the Commission Chambers on Friday, February 8th to get the private sector (campaign contributors) in a frenzy. All of this is happening before a Consent Decree has been "negotiated" by Mayor Gimenez-Osterholdt. Keep your EYE on this fiasco.

Annette Long said...

You really got it right. Everything the Governor and his minions are doing is Public Relations that is actually making the situation worse. Thanks for putting it so well.