Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rick.Scott.Jeb Bush. Everglades Fail: more … by gimleteye

Florida Everglades activist leaders -- like those running Florida Audubon -- are caught in a dismal loop: hostages to Big Sugar as though Stockholm Syndrome had affected them all. They are fearful to criticize their captors (ie. Big Sugar or state sponsored cronyism in government), else risk an even worse fate than befallen Florida's natural resources under the extremist wing of the GOP.

For example, Florida's Everglades leaders are too timid to organize along side public policy activists who call for measures to reduce the impact of sugar on the American diet by drawing attention to its enormous health care costs. The constituencies among health care advocates are much greater than for confronting Big Sugar and its political cronies in Florida.

Florida environmentalists won't see the forest through the trees the way John Oliver does.

The comic / social critic teed off on Big Sugar on HBO cable the other day. Oliver uses the deft hammer of excess sugar consumption to raise public awareness in ways that are driving Big Sugar crazy. Too bad Florida environmental leaders can't find their way to upsetting the Big Sugar reign of political terror in Florida.

There was another rebuttal to the recent OPED by former Governor Jeb Bush supporting his sugar sponsors and Gov. Rick Scott, printed in the Miami Herald. (El Nuevo Herald endorsed Rick Scott. The Herald, Charlie Crist.)

A former lead scientist with the South Florida Water Management Disrict, Larry Fink, offers a sober assessment of Jeb Bush's irresponsible OPED, more focused than Florida Everglades leaders have the courage to summon. Here is what Mr. Fink wrote on a Sierra Club Everglades listerve.

"This is in response to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's account of the Everglades restoration history to make his case that former Florida Governor "Charlie Crist stood in the way of the Everglades restoration" to support the candidacy of Governor Rick Scott, whom Jeb Bush styles as the true champion of Everglades restoration. This creative reconstruction of the history of the development and implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and the Central Everglades Project Plan (CEPP) requires a suspension of disbelief ( that beggars the imagination, even as a fictional work of political farce one might expect from the incomparable Carl Hiaasen.

To demonstrate the selectivity of his recollections, Jeb Bush forgot to mention that he signed off on amendments to the Everglades Forever Act ( that weakened the Phase II (water quality-based) total phosphorus (TP) targets, schedules, and compliance formulas mandated by the Federal Court-supervised Settlement Agreement to attain and maintain the 10 ppb TP Water Quality Standard (WQS) in the Everglades. When Judge Hoeveler complained that this was contempt of his court and asserted the primacy of the Federal Clean Water Act and the authority of his Federal Court over this nullification effort, he was accused of bias by Big Sugar, removed from the case, and replaced by Judge Marino. I don't recollect Charlie Crist signing off on any legislation sabotaging the Settlement Agreement on his watch.

Not Charlie Crist but then Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma, stood in the way of Everglades restoration while Jeb Bush was Governor and Jeb Bush's brother was President. Not satisfied with setting back Everglades restoration by a decade, Inhofe is now one of the go-to Senators on climate change denial. In response to questions regarding his position on climate change, Governor Scott says he's not a scientist, and, parenthetically, has no intention of listening to scientists on the subject, as evidenced by his reaction to his meeting with a group of climate scientists in August of this year. (…/rick-scott-gubernatorial-debate…/)

This must also be true of the scientists on the committee who authored the 5th* Biennial Review on Progress Towards Everglades Restoration and concluded that "Climate change is not adequately considered in the CERP planning process" and recommended that "it be integrated into future ongoing analysis and monitoring." .. Like Rick Scott, Charlie Crist is not a scientist, but unlike Rick Scott, Charlie Crist is not a climate change denier or dodger. He believes that climate change caused by global warming of human origin is real and consequential, so he won't have to muzzle his agencies on the subject and will lead from the top in preparing Florida to deal with sea level rise, ocean acidification, and increases in the magnitudes, durations, and frequencies of extreme weather events to which Florida is the most vulnerable state in the union. According to our Everglades experts, this will also benefit Everglades restoration.

The central flow-way planned for Charlie Crist's River of Grass Initiative would preferentially move Lake Okeechobee water south into the Everglades rather than laterally into the sugar cane farms in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). The central flow-way was necessary and sufficient for the comprehensive restoration and protection of a more natural quantity, quality, routing, and timing of minimum and maximum flows and levels to each of the South Florida ecosystems sooner than later. Governor Crist may have been naive about how much resistance his plan would generate from those who needed to participate voluntarily in the required land swaps in the flow-way footprint, but his commitment to Everglades restoration was never in doubt. In contrast, Rick Scott held Everglades restoration hostage until he extracted the required quid pro quos from USEPA Region 4.

As part of this quid pro quo Rick Scott imposed arbitrary limits on what he was willing to spend on Everglades restoration. As a consequence, the preferred plan that emerged from the Corps-SFWMD partnership and CEPP process endorsed by Governor Scott was systematically under-designed with respect to its ability to withstand hurricane winds and rains, the frequency with which it has to divert extreme storm water runoff events, the ability to treat undiverted stormwater runoff down to the TP WQS, the redundancy required to accommodate routine and unscheduled treatment system maintenance and repairs, and its operational flexibility to optimize system performance.

To add water quantity insult to water quality injury, it will add at most 230,000 acre-ft of treated Lake Okeechobee water to the Everglades flow around 2030 if all goes as planned or around 2040 if all goes as is more typical of a Corps public works project. Despite the fact that 230,000 acre-ft is only equivalent to about 5" of Lake Okeechobee storage, the Corps and SFWMD claim that that will reduce the frequency of mega-releases from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries by about 25% when CEPP is fully operational. Even if that estimate is accurate, it is still too little, too late for the Everglades, the Indian River Lagoon, and Caloosahatchee River Estuary.

Based on the preceding, Jeb Bush's casting of Rick Scott as the hero and Charlie Christ as the villain in the Everglades restoration drama goes far beyond poetic license to the stuff of myth and legend, not truth, justice, and the American way. For all the above reasons and more, if you care about Everglades restoration, Charlie Crist must be your choice over Rick Scott.

Larry E. Fink, M.S.
Waterwise Consulting, LLC
*This should not be confused with taking the 5th, with which Governor Scott has 75 times more experience than in conceiving, negotiating, funding, and implementing a truly comprehensive South Florida ecosystem restoration plan.


Anonymous said...

Well known that Florida Audubon were Jeb Bush apologists and continue their version of playing the inside game with Florida extremists while natural resources fade to black.

Anonymous said...

Fink is right to bring up the horrible memory of James Inhofe, the Republican senator who could return to a position of leadership of the radical GOP gain control of the US Senate in the elections next week. Voters, don't take the nation back to Inhofe's madness.

Anonymous said...

As a kid growing up in the communities on the SE shores of Lake Okeechobee I spent my Summer days with a fish net capturing every native species of fish and aquatic plant that grew in the shallow ditches in my neighborhood. At the time even rare everglades sunfish could be netted in the crystal clear waters. Circa 1970 big sugar arrived, and not more than two years later the ditches had been dredged to allow for intensive irrigation, the water had turned murky and brown, and the only fish remaining were trash species. At the time I did not know why the drastic change and where the creatures I had so enjoyed had gone. Later I put it all together. This is a first hand account of what big sugar did to the environmental water quality of the area not to mention the promotion of obesity and diabetes.

Anonymous said...

I hope the scientist sent his comments to the Miami herald publisher. The Herald should be ashamed to publish those lies by Jeb Bush. If Bush to lie he should be made to buy an ad. Also, it's a double embarrassment that El Nuevo Herald endorsed Rick Scott for governor. Our main newspapers have really lost their way. They might as well reprint the Chamber of commerce newsletters on their front pages.

Anonymous said...

Just in the past 2 years, the republican party has lost 2% of their voters and the democrat party has lost 4%, at the same time the Libertarian party has gained an extra 12%. That's the national average, here in Florida, the Libertarian party has grown by 19%. People are waking up! It's about time.
...Vote for Adrian Wyllie...

Anonymous said...

Yes all you Scott supporters: vote for Wyllie.