When Gov. Rick Scott recently asked President Obama to declare a federal emergency over the toxic algae catastrophe coating South Florida's shoreline, my head nearly exploded.
It is the zenith of hypocrisy for Gov. Scott to plead for federal assistance on the algae bloom catastrophe when his entire record is hacking, whittling, and chopping federal authority into little, little pieces. And not just any federal authority; specifically federal rules to regulate fertilizers and specifically federal actions to hold Florida accountable.
Many decades ago, the U.S. EPA "delegated" full responsibility to Florida to manage the state's water pollution regulations while preserving the federal right to protect all Americans' air and water quality.
Tight control of pollution, it turns out, is the last thing that top campaign funders -- like Big Sugar -- want. As a result, the Republicans war against the U.S. EPA has been unremitting. Florida's GOP has been on its own jihad against federal authority, claiming states' rights in favor of local jurisdictions except -- of course! -- when it comes to the threat by local jurisdictions to clamp down on fertilizer pollution by Big Ag. Then the state steps in!
Then, all the little piggies have their hands out to the federal government. If I were President Obama, I would be livid.
Governor Scott blames the president, but wake up Florida: Scott's six years as governor is defined by branding his bona fides; a) rejecting federal authority, b) spurning federal assistance (think Obamacare), c) knee-capping state environmental agencies and especially science staff, d) cutting regulations specific to forms of pollution causing the algae blooms and e) lobbying against rule making by the U.S. EPA to regulate fertilizers.
One can almost hear President Obama saying: Florida, you have to figure this one out for yourselves. You want me to come to the rescue for your governor's fuck-ups?
President Obama, of course, is well aware how Florida works. It takes two seconds to understand the GOP practice of maintaining, buffing and shining polluters' privileges through gerrymandered districts. Just like the way one can trace the algae bloom back to excess phosphorous and nitrogen used by Big Sugar, one can trace the deformation of districts to outsized campaign contributions by polluters intent on maintain control legislatures whose pollution-control laws affect their profits.
If I were President Obama, and you -- the reader -- were Florida Governor Rick Scott, and you asked me to declare a federal emergency of counties afflicted by toxic algae blooms, I’d be tempted to say:
“Really? You and the Florida legislature worked like mad dogs to reject, refuse and to deny the ability of the U.S. EPA to regulate fertilizers including nitrogen and phosphorous, the cause of the algae blooms. And you want the federal taxpayer to rescue you because of your own stupidities? When the federal government offered to assist in regulating fertilizers, you said 'no thanks'. Then you set the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida loose on Congress. When we have tried to move Everglades restoration forward, your administration has pushed back against any efforts to put tighter restrictions on phosphorous and nitrogen flowing from sugar fields owned by your buddies, the Big Sugar cartel. So who are you kidding with your complaints about the federal government not stepping in and being active? We tried. You denied. We promoted the U.S. economy and environmental stewardship and you demagogued against pollution control laws because they "kill jobs". You kicked us out and then you cut your own agencies’ science staff to the bone. Next time you call, give me some good news; like you support buying enough land in the Everglades Agricultural Area to stop the use of Florida waterways as sacrifice zones for Big Sugar."
This emergency is yours, Governor. Own it.