On the water front
Not all of the news was new but all of the news was good last week when Gov. Ron DeSantis and Congressman Francis Rooney each made announcements related to water quality issues that impact Southwest Florida.
Gov. DeSantis reiterated his commitment to funding for Everglades restoration and then added some bite to what, for too long, has been toothless “regulation” for polluters by announcing his support for a 50 percent hike in fines for environmental crimes.
At the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center in Naples on Sept. 11, the governor continued his pledge for what he has dubbed his $2.5 billion “Bold Vision for a Brighter Future” budget.
He detailed his request for $625 million in recurring funding from the Florida Legislature for the next three years pertaining to Everglades restoration and the protection of Florida’s water resources.
– At least $300 million for Everglades Restoration and the EAA Reservoir project
– $50 million for springs restoration
– $50 million for Total Maximum Daily Load projects (TMDLs) to ensure water bodies throughout the state have appropriate nutrient levels
– $15 million for projects within the St. Johns River, Suwannee River and Apalachicola River watersheds
– $10 million for Coral Reef protection and restoration
The remainder of the $625 million would be appropriated for other water quality, alternative water supplies, and water conservation projects, including technologies for nutrient reduction and harmful algal bloom prevention and mitigation.
Also on Sept. 11, Congressman Rooney announced that the House had passed H.R. 205, Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act, which would end drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, east of what is called the Military Mission Line.
The vote was 248-180, and the proposed legislation that would amend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 to permanently extend the moratorium on leasing in certain areas of the Gulf is now headed to the Senate.
Congressman Rooney, who represents the 19th District, sponsored the bill which deserves support in the Senate.
Congressman Rooney maintains that not only would drilling in this particular area of the Gulf impact military readiness, it has the potential to devastate our marine environment and beaches, a perfect storm that would literally, as we learned last summer, sweep away our local economy.
“As concerning as our military’s ability to train, is the adverse environmental and economic impact drilling in the EGOM could have on Florida. Our beaches drive more than $100 billion in tourism revenue. Coastal communities and businesses – charter boat captains, hotels, restaurants, recreational outlets, tourist services of all types – all depend on a healthy marine environment. Even the most remote risk or perception thereof undermines our tourism-driven economy,”?Congressman Rooney said in a recently published guest opinion.
We thank Gov. DeSantis and Congressman Rooney, who both have had this environmental emphasis since their respective elections.
We thank as well the officials who now share this mind set of commitment to the ‘Glades, to the Gulf and to Florida’s future.
It is unfortunate that it took the Environmental Hurricane of the summer of ’18 to get us here.
We urge them to stay the course.
– Reporter editorial