Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

March 2017 Prez Sez

What Happens in Florida if the EPA is Abolished?

A tale of two men?  Or, two tales about one man? While researching for this piece about the EPA, I did a doubletake.  Scott Pruitt is the new Administrator of the EPA, chosen by President Trump to lead an agency that should be protecting the environment and the health of the American people, but who is in the pockets of the oil industry.  He promises to cut environmental regulations in the name of increasing jobs, and undo any progress we have made to limit the ravages of climate change and sea level rise.  As attorney general of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA to try to block the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan.

But look at his resume on the EPA website and you would swear he is a centrist.  To quote one of the paragraphs: ”Pruitt became a national leader through a career of advocating to keep power in the hands of hard-working Americans.  He has a proven track record of working with others – including industry, farmers, ranchers, landowners and small business owners - who want to do the right thing by the environment.”

But not to worry because he may be out of a job soon anyway, if U.S. Representative Matt Goetz, R-FL has his way.  Goetz introduced a bill that would abolish the EPA in 2018, and send all the regulatory powers to the states.  A headline in the Huffington Post on Feb 25 quoted Pruitt as saying that those who want “to kill his agency are ‘justified’.” Pruitt believes that  responsibility for environmental regulation belongs with  the States.

So how would that work in Florida?  Scott emasculated the DEP, replaced scientists with cronies at the helms of the water management districts, and fired scientists who continued to push climate change. 

You know Florida’s waters are a mess when real estate sales people have to “Photoshop” the color of the water behind waterfront  homes.  Tourism suffers along the Gulf Coast where algal blooms are keeping people from enjoying the beaches and they are consequently canceling hotel and other rentals. The Indian River is a mess as well and we are just now studying how to fix it? 

With Gov. Scott’s 2012 abolition of the Department of Community Affairs  (DCA) as an essential safeguard against the runaway growth, huge developments can be planned and executed with little or no State oversight.  We can see them starting  today in Daytona and in New Smyrna Beach.  As we continue to overbuild, we will continue to imperil our waters.  As a matter of fact, there are  already 2448 entries in the database of Florida’s “Verified List of Imperiled Waters”.  

Do you remember how bad Lake Apopka was once?  The St John’s River WMD started restoration and birds started returning and there were massive die-offs of White Pelicans and other birds and animals because there was still too much DDT and other pesticides in the farmlands.  So far, it has cost $185 million to bring the lake to where it is now.  It took $112 million to buy up all that farmland on the north shore, $37 million for construction and maintenance, $21 million to get rid of pesticides in the ground and $8 million for studies.  Why haven’t state legislators and governors figured out it costs much less to protect the resources in the first place, than to fix the problems later.