Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rick Scott Turns Florida into Pollution Paradise

According to the National Resource Defense Council, Florida is now the 2nd most polluted state in the union (thanks Ohio) under Governor Pollution.

It wasn't always this way. Florida used to be a beacon for the environmental movement. Before the dark years of Republican leadership, Florida made headlines for rejecting the massive flood-control projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; restoring the Kissimmee River; and spending billions to save the precious Everglades. Hell, as early as three years ago Crist came up with a plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions and established commissions to combat pollution.

But under the brief and horrible regime of Governor Sick Rott, the commissions were eliminated, agencies charged with protection were slashed or abolished, activists were pursued, budgets of the water-management districts gutted, and anti-environmental legislation that actually CREATED pollution were enacted into law.

Scott has done more to pollute lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and the drinking water supply in Florida than any governor in history. In three short years we became the second most polluted state in the US.

But Scott won’t rest until we are #1.

The bastard signed several bills that took effect just this month, which include the following:

SB 444: Allows a large increase in “wastewater discharge” into waterways. Because that's just what everyone wants...

SB 682: Removes regulations on hazardous wastes and combustible fossil fuel disposal. (Paint? Oil? Insulation? Now you can just dump it. Our drinking water is a small price to pay for construction companies that have to worry about wasting time with proper disposal.)

HB 999: Flip the numbers on this one upside down to get its true intentions:

- Cuts the fees, regulation, and permit requirements on commercial development of wetlands, marinas, etc. - Ends transparency to environmental permits - Denies individual rights to sue for pollution-related damages from spills - Oh, and now we can have “fracking”! (We'll be #1 by next year!)

That’s just for 2013. The damages he has done since he’s taken over, including the destruction of our natural springs, is unforgivable. It will cost billions if not trillions to undo the environmental damage that Rick Scott has cost us.

But don’t we have a Florida Department of Environmental Protection, SemDem? Can they do nothing?

Yes. They can do nothing. It’s what they are good at. The leader is Jeff Littlejohn, who is the son of Florida Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Chuck Littlejohn. (He was the one responsible for changing the way wetland credits were calculated.)

The little Littlejohn was not put into his post by Rick Scott at the DEP because of any love for the environment. In fact, he has a penchant for firing people in the agency who fucking do their jobs.

Florida’s top state wetlands expert was suspended when she refused to issue a permit on a controversial project by the Highlands Ranch Mitigation Bank (formed in 2008 by the Carlyle Group, remember those guys?):

The problem, according to a May 9 memo from Department of Environmental Protection wetlands expert Connie Bersok, is that the owners want the DEP to give them lots of wetland credits for land that isn't wet.

After being told by Deputy Secretary Jeff Littlejohn to ignore the rules she had followed on other permits, Bersok wrote, "I hereby state my objection to the intended agency action and refusal to recommend this permit for issuance."

The application that led to Bersok's suspension came from the Highlands Ranch Mitigation Bank, which has repeatedly tussled with permitting officials.

"They're scrappy, these guys," said Glenn Lowe, who lost his job with the St. Johns River Water Management District after he refused to give Highlands Ranch what its owners wanted. Former water district executive director Kirby Green said Lowe and other employees lost their jobs because Gov. Rick Scott's pro-business administration didn't like the way they treated Highlands Ranch.

When questioned about suspending someone for refusing to break state law and give wetlands credits for DRY LAND, Rick Scott was understandably furious--at the wetlands expert for not caving!

The same guy, Littlejohn, earlier this year fired several DEP lawyers for winning their cases:

Lawyer Chris Byrd had just won a court victory on behalf of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. After a four-day trial, a jury had ruled that a Marion County couple had illegally filled in wetlands by an aquatic preserve along the Rainbow River. Instead of celebrating, the DEP attorney felt worried.

"As soon as the verdict came back, I had a sinking feeling," he said. "I thought, 'When (Florida Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary) Jeff Littlejohn hears about this, I'm probably going to lose my job.' "

Sure enough, Littlejohn met with the defendants and listened to their complaints about Byrd. Five months after his win, Byrd was one of four DEP lawyers ousted from their jobs.

The four attorneys were stellar employees—one having won a case before the US Supreme Court. And that was the problem.

According to the article, before Rick Scott’s minions took over, the DEP actually went after people who filled in wetlands. Now, the approach is to grant them an “after-the-fact permit” if they get caught. I. Kid. You. Not.

Human-worm Rick Scott does not give a damn about Florida or any of its citizens. He is all about enriching his corporate masters, including the billionaire energy giants Charles and David Koch who pushed for these lax regulations and tax exemptions. Once he is ousted next year, I have no doubt he will flee the cesspool he helped create. I can only pray for those who remain to clean up his mess.

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