Recent reporting by Craig Pittman of The Tampa Bay Times and Kevin Spear of The Orlando Sentinel reveal the dramatic, widespread problems facing many of Florida’s rivers and springs. Editorials across the state then called on Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Legislature to take action.
Unfortunately, efforts in Tallahassee have focused on rolling back environmental safeguards and growth management guidelines, cutting funding for conservation and regulatory programs, reducing enforcement against polluters and liquidating public lands.
Budget cuts are compromising the ability of the DEP and the water management districts to protect our state’s natural resources. Our state has lost decades of knowledge and expertise from significant layoffs, resulting in less capable agencies with insufficient resources and demoralized personnel. Although the DEP recently claimed that “these reductions have done nothing to erode the agency’s role in regulating industry and protecting the environment,” it is not hard to find evidence to the contrary.