Clean Waterways Act should be vetoed
To the editor:
Before COVID-19, perhaps no concern was as great for Floridians as clean water. Now the Clean Waterways Act is sitting on Gov. DeSantis’ desk. Understandably, because of the current health crisis, he has not yet signed this piece of legislation. Floridians, therefore, have time to urge him to veto this bill as over 50 organizations throughout the state have already done. You can read their statement here: www.floridaspringscouncil.org/single-post/2020/03/23/FSC-asks-Governor-DeSantis-to-VETO-the-Clean-Waterways-Act
This bill is the same politically spineless stuff that has been going on for decades here in Florida as documented in Toxic Inconvenience: Red Tide and Blue-Green Algae on Florida’s Coast, by Nicholas G. Penniman IV, chair emeritus of both the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, among many other things. I urge all Floridians to read it to better understand how this bill is a just another example of our legislature kowtowing to corporate interests at the expense of people and the ecosystems we depend upon.
Also, buried in the bill is a provision that preempts the power of local governments to declare and defend the rights of citizens to clean water. Yes, you read that correctly. Citizens, through their local governments, will not have power to declare and defend their rights to clean water and healthy ecosystems, in general. It also denies local governments the power to declare and defend rights for nature as has been done in Pittsburgh with such positive results.
Here’s the provision: “A local government regulation, ordinance, code, rule, comprehensive plan, charter, or any other provision of law may not recognize or grant any legal rights to a plant, an animal, a body of water, or any other part of the natural environment that is not a person or political subdivision as defined in s. 1.01 or grant such person or political subdivision any specific rights relating to the natural environment not otherwise authorized in general law or specifically granted in the State Constitution.”
Our regulatory system has failed us and the natural world for the past 50 years, which is why we suffer perpetual water issues here in SWFL and why the planet is in ecological crisis. And every year our rights and powers as citizens and the rights and powers of local governments have suffered as corporate interests have flourished by exerting undue influence over legislatures. Urge Governor DeSantis to veto this bill.