If you like pollution, Governor Rick Scott must be your hero.
With just a year to go before seeking reelection, Gov. Scott is making sure that no matter what the election results, he will leave his mark on Florida.
At the end of the 2013 legislative session on May 30, Rick Scott signed several bills, all of which will make Florida a more polluted state and endanger the health and safety of millions of people.
Scott has done more to pollute lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and the drinking water supply in Florida than any governor in recent memory. And here is what Floridians can expect from Mr. Scott beginning July 1, 2013:
SB 444– Allows for an increase in the “wastewater discharged” into waterways that lead to the ocean.
The extra pollution saves money for utility companies, but is not likely to improve Florida beaches or the tourist industry that depends on them.
SB 682-Removes regulations on hazardous waste and combustible fossil fuel products disposal.
Asphalt, cement products, plastic paints, insulation, and related toxic materials will be allowed to be dumped throughout the state, including at landfills that previously prohibited accepting toxic waste.
The primary beneficiaries of this new law are construction and mining companies that will no longer have to incur the additional costs of safe disposal of their toxic waste and chemicals. However, this law puts the drinking water supply at risk, as the toxic pollution makes its way into the drinking water supply through seepage and runoff.
HB 999-Reduces fees, regulations, and permit requirements on the commercial development of wetlands, water well drilling, marinas, and related construction. It also discourages the protection of drinking water supplies by placing a ban on reducing fresh water allocations for local water management districts that use desalinization plants.
There are several other provisions, including a reduction in transparency related to environmental permits, and changes the rights of individuals to sue for pollution-related damages from spills and leaks.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the new laws involve bringing natural gas pipelines and “fracking” to Florida.
Cattle farmers in fracking areas have reported unusual diseases and death in their livestock. Natural gas fracking has also caused earthquakes in otherwise stable areas and introduced methane and other toxic chemicals into drinking water supplies.
Additional legislation gives tax exemptions and discounts to oil and gas companies, commercial developers and other industries that profit from lax environmental protection regulations.
Rick Scott has ties to billionaire energy giants Charles and David Koch, who could financially benefit from the elimination or reduction of environmental regulations and tax exemptions in many of Florida’s new laws.
If any government agency ever chooses to clean up the pollution Gov. Rick Scott has dumped, poured, and buried all over this once pristine state, it will take years and billions of dollars, and some of the damage may be irreversible.
Hopefully, the next governor will decide that Florida deserves better than to be used as a garbage pail for companies eager to pollute for profit.
Details on all the new laws Gov. Scott signed in this legislative session can be found at the Florida Senate 2013 Summary of Legislation Passed.
Florida House of Representatives
Florida League of Cities, Inc.
Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health