Saturday, January 09, 2016

State of Florida on Environmental Litigation Related to Everglades: It Is All Good, Leave Us Alone and Trust Us ... by gimleteye

If you listen to the State of Florida, everything with the Everglades is hunky dory. By this reasoning, agencies are humming along fixing things, and so Big Sugar -- responsible primarily for the billion dollar mess of reworking Florida's water supply -- says to the state: help us drop the federal litigation that has been winding on for decades.

There is a very good reason for environmentalists to keep up the pressure: the state of Florida, its eminences gris outside counsel (politically correct to a "T") and current governor Rick Scott are exceptional examples.

Timelines for "completion" of Everglades restoration project are well beyond the life span of the senior monitors of Everglades restoration. 2028? 2050? Many will be turning daisies.

America needs the federal courts to stay involved in Everglades restoration because it is the single branch of the federal government whose mission is (hopefully) durable.

Remember the last governor who said "I don't need the permission of environmentalists to save the Everglades"? That was Jeb Bush, and as the New Yorker recently detailed: Jeb's! plans for the Everglades blew up carefully crafted hopes over decades of involvement by stakeholders. Read Dexter Filkins' great report, here. It took a federal lawsuit by the Miccosukee Tribe and the small environmental group I represent as volunteer board chair, Friends of the Everglades, to hold the state and federal government's (EPA) feet to the fire.

As a broad matter for consideration, Gov. Rick Scott can't be trusted because this most incurious governor in modern Florida history took Jeb Bush's template "My Way Or The Highway" and injected it with steroids.

The wholesale dismantling of science capacity at the water management district and budgets, the elimination of growth management enforcement: on water policy, appropriations, and interaction with citizens and the public interest, the Florida legislature and Gov. Rick Scott have shown a single-minded determination to undo whatever is left of balance in environmental regulation and enforcement.

In many respects, the federal judiciary is the last repository of hope for the Everglades -- especially when such energy and money is spent trying to shift science baselines in order to accommodate the profits of Big Sugar billionaires.

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