Yes, this really is Rick Scott, Adam Putnam and Pam Bondi’s fault

Andy Marlette Cartoon
billboard photo
Citizens pleading for help in 2011. Scott was elected in 2010.

As horrified people watch dead manatees, marine mammals, fish and hundreds of sea turtles wash up on Florida’s southwest coast, politicians are tripping over one another to express concern.

But a look back eight years ago shows that three key state leaders – Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, and Attorney General Pam Bondi – fought bitterly against stricter limits for the very pollution now sliming South Florida. And they started with a letter written just 10 days after they were elected.

Their opposition was ideological; In the November 2010 letter of objection to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, they complained that setting pollution limits for sewage, manure and fertilizer runoff would be an “onerous regulation” by an “overbearing federal government.”

It would also, they argued, interfere with the ability to squeeze every last dollar out of the cash cow that is the Sunshine State.

“We are very concerned about the cost of this onerous regulation to Floridians,” the letter said. “Businesses across Florida are struggling and our unemployment rate is nearly 12%.”

It’s not clear how they thought keeping poop out of the public’s water would make unemployment worse, but whatever. They whined on:

“We each ran on the platform of fiscal responsibility and heard from numerous constituents about concerns of an overbearing federal government that’s placing burdensome regulations on Florida’s families and employers.”

It makes one wonder what their Republican supporters living on waterfront estates fouled by the rotting stench of dead fish think about pollution regulation now. Red tide is a natural occurrence, but the polluted agriculture runoff the government is pumping to the coasts from Lake Okeechobee super-charges it.

In 2010, Scott, Putnam, and Bondi even claimed that pollution limits could “increase the price of utilities, food and other necessities for Floridians.”

In fact, the “burdensome regulations” the EPA was proposing were modest, because monied interest groups like home builders, industrial agriculture, and utilities were already applying heavy pressure in Washington to get the EPA to back off.

The EPA’s proposed pollution limits were lame, but at least they were a start. In fact, Florida was to be the first state in America to set limits for sewage, manure, and fertilizer runoff.  It was a solution a long time coming. Rather than let polluted runoff foul public waters, the reasoning went, why not require it to be cleaned up at the source? We have the technology.

Everyone could see at the time that runoff from America’s industrial agricultural operations was a plague across America, spawning a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, turning lakes and rivers fluorescent green with toxic algae from coast to coast, making people sick, and even killing pets and livestock. In regulatory circles, they prefer to call sewage, manure and fertilizer “nutrients” – it sounds like it’s actually good for you.

The polluters hired Tallahassee PR man Ron Sachs’ firm to puff up the narrative that setting pollution limits would Cost Too Much, and they trotted out various loyalists in the Legislature and state government put lipstick on that pig. A fake “clean water” coalition sprung up, made up of the very industries opposing the pollution safeguards.

Even the Southwest Florida Chamber of Commerce – whose members include the beachfront businesses and hotels now screwed by green slime and rotting grouper – toed the polluter line.

“The Chamber is concerned,” reads a 2010 release, “that many of the proposed regulations will impose additional economic hardship to an already struggling Florida economy.”

In the end, Gov. Scott got his Department of Environmental Protection to convince the EPA that Florida should set its own regulations for sewage, manure and fertilizer. This, in a state where Scott had eviscerated environmental agencies with cutbacks that slashed enforcement and tossed aside many state scientists with long experience.

Documents uncovered in a court case later showed that Florida polluter lobbyists wrote the DEP’s rules, which are the “limits” we have today. We can all see how well that’s working.

In one of the most brazen moves, Bondi and Scott filed legal action in 2014 to block cleanup of Chesapeake Bay. If you’re thinking WTF, I’ll let Florida author and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen explain it:

“Why would the state of Florida try to obstruct the cleanup of public waters hundreds of miles away from our own?” Hiaasen wrote, “Because Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott are complete tools.

They aren’t suing on behalf of the citizens of Florida; they’re suing on behalf of big agricultural and development interests that don’t want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enforcing clean-water laws anywhere.

Among the lobby groups trying to dismantle the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint are the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Home Builders and those famously civic-minded folks at the Fertilizer Institute. They want us to trust them to regulate their own pollution, and to hell with the EPA.”

This might all be just a stroll through the Wayback Machine if not for the fact that Putnam is running for governor and Scott is running for U.S. Senate. Scott recently declared a State of Emergency over the algae outbreak (because waterfront-dwelling Republicans might vote.) Among other things, it kindly provides loans to counties struggling with toxic green slime.

Maybe Sarasota County could use the money. They had workers and tractors on the beach yesterday, scooping up thousands of pounds of deceased marine creatures.

“Tourists weren’t scattered on Venice Beach Wednesday morning, but hundreds of dead fish were,” reported the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “Visitors piled into the parking lot, got out of their cars, started hacking, coughing and sneezing, and then quickly left the beach, which had become a tableau of death.”

Visit Florida, y’all!

37 COMMENTS

  1. Water is our essence. Those who befoul it are more than foolish — they’re suicidal. Thank you Julie Hauserman, for calling out the duplicitous and greedy politicians who support the destruction of our fellow creatures and our planet for their own short-term profit. Let’s vote them out of office!

    • Florida voters need to vote, but first be aware of what is going on, check the facts, don’t believe the ads, do your own research. Our grandchildren will be living with the decisions we make at the voting booth today..

      • First, we DID vote, so spare me the sarcastic “it’s as easy as” retort. The fact is BOTH parties have repeatedly failed us and even when good politicians run the gerrymandering means the same have already cretins rigged the system so they could remain in office. Then there’s the legislature that seems to do as it pleases regardless of what measures we vote in to become laws. This is not just OUR broken system, it’s the same one that put into the White house the guy who LOST the popular vote. It’s the same one that let’s money talk and influence our legislature over the votes and shouting that are rendered useless.

    • Blame Obama, Clinton, and the DNC, of course. What else do they ever do? If they could blame Colin Kaepernick, they would. That’s what filthy, stinking sewer pigs of the GOP do, besides graft, grift, and grabbing pussies.

  2. Excellent article. Well said. Not too-difficult to understand.

    This was a DISASTER from Day 1. Now, Rick Scott is acting like the ” solution” as he spends our tax money to put a microscopic band aid on a gushing aorta! TIME FOR RICK SCOTT to LEAVE THE STATE IN DISGRACE! Take Trump’s Buddy Pam Bondi and Good Ole Boy Adam Putnam with you! #BASTA

  3. Great article. I sure hope that people will get out and vote this Fall. The people who stayed home in 2016 deserve some of the blame for the destruction heaped on us by the republicans.

  4. It’s hard to know what to say about Gov. Rick Scott, an utterly incompetent individual who somehow managed to get re-elected because he wasn’t a Democrat, when in fact his record shows the only individuals who have benefitted from his reign of errors are his wealthy cronies and friends. This is a man who can claim he’s improving the environment while taking Texas ranch vacations courtesy of his good friends at U.S. Sugar, which is largely behind this toxic mess. The lands they farm used to be wetlands filtering the flow of water from the undammed Lake Okeechobee south to the Everglades, but a terrible flood in 1928 caused the great minds of that era to decide the best way to deal with it was to dike the lake and send the overflow down the St. Lucie River to the east and the Caloosahatchee River to the west, right into two of the world’s most productive estuaries, where thousands of varieties of sea life spend part of their reproductive cycle. Even the most short-sighted person can see this is no way to treat a state that relies on tourism for its revenue! Our governor, his cabinet and most of the state legislature are tools of the monied interests who have decided to wring the last drop out of Flordia before it’s tossed away, a polluted sandbar wasteland.

      • That would be nice but we have party controlled primaries and lots of money to drown out opposition. When we dump the party run primaries and open them and forbid that money from flowing into campaigns, then, and only then will we start to fix this p broken system.

  5. Heat, hear.

    But: “It makes one wonder what their Republican supporters living on waterfront estates fouled by the rotting stench of dead fish think about pollution regulation now.” Well, why not ask them? Especially their Republican supporters and Democratic enablers in the FL legislature from those counties!

  6. As a Native of Florida, I am disgusted by the “Non-Natives” coming into my home, having a party and leaving us with nothing but DEAD Fish! THEN, the citizens were ordered to go ” pick up the carcasses from the beach, ” adding insult to injury. DO NOT ENABLE THIS CROOK<,RICK SCOTT by cleaning up his mess. You know what? This will be back in a few weeks…..same scenario, same suspects, and the an endless plethora of lies, finger pointing and grandstanding. DON'T allow Scott to turn this into a credit-claiming victory. NO WAY.
    Please share this article far and wide.

  7. As a former Florida resident, this is heartbreaking. We left Ft. Myers because of the nasty beaches and red tide. The last straw was when I took our 3 year old granddaughter to the Ft. Myers beach – by that evening she had broke out in a red rash all over her body – it was itching her like crazy – I took her to the ER and the nurse told me they were seeing a lot of this! I feel bad for the tourists who are not aware of this when they leave home. It cost a small fortune for a family to spend a week in Florida only to be disappointed. I now live up north and see ads on TV from all the coastal counties showing beautiful beaches and saying “Come play on our beach”. That is false and they should be sued for false advertising!

  8. This is a magnificent article. Truth spoken. I remember well when these three criminals put the skids on the EPA.

  9. Lived in FL for over thirty years seen Dems and cons in Tallahassee but not one of them were as corrupt as Rick Scott that fact that he’s served two terms is a farce.

  10. THIS is what we need to remember in November, when it’s time to vote!
    Spread the word to senior citizens!!
    They could quietly elect one of these incompetents, unaware of their true colors.
    LET’S VOTE THEM OUT!!

  11. This is the only decent reporting that I have seen on this subject. Every other media outlet that I have seen feels like that to been fair they must give Rick Scott’s lies equal weight with the truth. Reporters have a responsibility to call out lies, not give them credibility. Thank you Julie Hauserman! Great work!

    • Absolutely!! The MSM continue to state it is just ” red tide.” Grateful to have Florida Phoenix. Spread the word!

  12. What about the changes in the laws Scott and crew made to allow Big Sugar to dump industrial waste into the rivers that exit the coasts at Port St. Lucie and the Tampa/Sarasota areas?

  13. My only consolation as a longtime Florida resident who has seen the degradation of our state by Republicans AND Democrats is this: Mother Nature is watching and she is not amused. It will get ugly, but she will prevail – here and everywhere.

  14. […] The current political landscape in Florida has brewed much chaos. Many states have better policies and numerical values in place for responding to harmful algal blooms. In Florida, deregulation is the order of the day, oversight is minimal, and nutrient (nitrogen & phosphorous) pollution runs rampant. State agencies have been hobbled into ineffectiveness by budget cuts and corporate-friendly policy makers. […]

  15. Thank You Julie Hauserman for this report. Please kept these news articles on the front page. Floridas beaches are world reknown. Lets fix this in a way that no d—n politician can ever spoil it again!

  16. Rick Scott, Adam Putnam, Pam Bondi, the corporations who own their asses, and the rocket scientists who voted for them in the first place can all go suck a dead manatee.

  17. Right on target investigation. Sign and share the People of Florida’s groundbreaking July 4, 2016 corrupt racketeering petition to Justice against RICO Scott and Associates. Bust the Trump Ring in Florida Justice. Focus on Trump and Rick Scott real estate and bank transactions for money laundering and corrupt racketeering.

  18. These bafons need to get out of here before they allow any more damage to be done.
    Money isn’t as important as precious life. We obviously don’t have a second earth to go to if this one gets ruined by morons. We need to consider what is best for the health of our home, not the mystical wallet.

  19. Anytime ANY politician starts talking about the effects on (name local citizens), you know it’s time to get your hackles up because they aren’t talking about you, but their monied interests.

  20. Look people need to stand up and start to investigate ourselfs 🕵️🕵️🕵️🕵️this has to come out the closet now,pack up boys and girls we going on a trip!!

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