* No state has more wetlands than Florida. We are de facto stewards as well as residents. And developers. We have priorities: from ecosystems to economics. In that order–if enlightened self interest means anything. In that order, if absorbing flood water, filtering out pollution and providing wildlife habitats mean anything.
Now, however, there are two bills coursing through the legislature that threaten that already delicate balance.
Both SB 1402 and HB 7043 would expedite a change that would mean the state–“Flori-duh,” we are reminded–would replace the federal government when it comes to issuing federal wetlands permits. The cut-to-the-chase agenda: Make it easier to build in wetlands–and, in the process, construct an addition to the Rick Scott legacy of Department of Environmental Protection downgrades.
If it were to happen, there could be ripples beyond the Sunshine State. “The likelihood would be that several other states would then use this as a template,” says Eric Hughes, a former U.S. EPA wetlands expert. Alas, Rick Scott is not one of a kind–just Florida’s sell-out, Trump-supporting version.
* As we’ve been seeing, the gubernatorial campaign of name-recognition-challenged Philip Levine has been getting some ink of late as the former Miami Beach mayor tours Florida. He does, however, check off some boxes that could resonate with a mix of voters.
He’s not some classic liberal ripe for demonization by partisan opposition. He has business experience; he’s rich; he’s media savvy; he’s been elected; and he’s got a serious track record for pushing climate-change infrastructure investments in Miami Beach’s streets, sea walls and flood control system.
And, yeah, having personality, being able to contribute multi-millions of his own money to a campaign and speaking fluent Spanish in Florida–with its ever-increasing influx of Puerto Ricans–should help.
He’s a player.