Thursday, November 10, 2016

President-elect Trump: Let's get to work protecting Florida's water quality, its rivers, bays and Everglades ... by gimleteye

President-elect Donald Trump has a lot on his plate. Still, let's imagine that Trump knows Florida and he knows about picking low-hanging fruit.

"Sick of corruption" was the rallying cry for Trump supporters in Florida, as it was around the nation. Among Republican voters who helped deliver the state, many know exactly how political corruption has caused their waterways, rivers and Everglades -- not to mention property values -- to be fouled.

The politics for President-elect Trump on this issue -- protecting water quality in Florida -- line up in ways that never surfaced in the 2016 campaign.

Why not side with people, early in his administration, against the great corrupters of Florida's water infrastructure? Donald Trump knows Big Sugar.

Big Sugar uses Trump's Mar-a-Largo for Palm Beach society and charity events. To the Fanjuls/ Florida Crystals empire, Trump was an arriviste. New money and, in their view, maybe not even real money. Trump was the guy who rented his place and plated silverware.

The Clintons have a widely reported, well-known and close personal friendship with the Fanjuls. They have been invited to and entertained in high style by the Fanjuls at their Dominican Republic hide-away. One wonders whether Donald Trump was ever invited there.

Big Sugar put Marco Rubio in the US Senate to protect its prerogatives. During the GOP presidential primary, Rubio called protecting the federal subsidy for Big Sugar a matter of national security. President-elect Trump owes Marco Rubio nothing.

Gov. Rick Scott is known to Trump, of course. As one of Trump's key fundraisers, Scott didn't do a very good job.

The other player in the drama is Florida senate president Joe Negron, whose district and key supporters are also advocates of clean, fresh water.

As a result of their anger during the toxic tidal wave of 2015/2016, Negron joined conservationists around the state in signing the Now or Neverglades Declaration, calling for significant land acquisition from Big Sugar in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

One of the Big Sugar spokespersons sniffs that Negron's determination to purchase EAA land -- with state funds authorized by a constitutional amendment approved by a majority of voters -- is "dead on arrival". Big Sugar has been waging a behind-the-scene whisper campaign that "Florida already owns too much land."

Not so fast. It is always the case with Big Sugar, balancing the present value of its property against its future value in present day dollars.

The point is that President-elect Trump has both political space and reason to make a bipartisan cause -- saving Florida's waterways and Everglades restoration -- a signature issue. Better than Hillary Clinton.

During the latter stage of the campaign, Trump made flip comments about Lake Okeechobee and protecting Florida's waters, but the election is over.

What does President-elect Trump owe Big Sugar? Not very much, and the political capital he could gain with both Democrats and Republicana who supported him along Florida's populous, GOP strongholds is real.

Remember, Richard Nixon? Nixon was not an environmentalist, but he found political advantage to propose federal environmental legislation that still stands as his most important achievement in domestic policy.

To be sure, the campaign trail was filled with rhetoric about the excess baggage of environmental rules and regulations. But now, life is different. Donald Trump is no longer a golf club owner wrestling with stormwater run-off or flood control consultants.

Protecting Florida's water quality looks like the kind of low-hanging fruit that makes sense for a president-elect who wants to surprise the world.

In the meantime, Floridians should call Senate President Negron and urge him to state clearly and unequivocally that land acquisition in the Everglades Agricultural Area and funding of operations for a massive new water treatment and storage marshes in Big Sugar lands is a top priority for 2017's legislative session.

1 comment:

Sandy Oestreich said...

We are not hopeful; we aim to be resigned to the worst of Trump!

We, as a family, are reacting by designing protection from Trumpster:

Drinking water: We have installed a reverse osmosis water system to help filter out what Trump allows in.