If election season makes you feel more ornery than optimistic, we feel you.
Couple the quagmire of Everglades restoration with venal candidates and it's reasonable to want to just go fishing and forget about it.
Keeping that "gone fishing" escape hatch, though, requires a healthy Florida Bay. To ensure that, we must elect the folks willing to make Everglades restoration their unwavering priority. Effective restoration includes buying EAA land, building a clean water reservoir, and sending that water south as needed.
The top of our state's political food chain - Governor Rick Scott - has made it clear through his actions that his personal agenda trumps his constituents' concern for the environment. But Scott holds office until 2018, so let's look one rung lower on the public service ladder: U.S. Senator.
Florida's leading candidates are: Patrick Murphy, a democrat currently finishing his second term in the House of Representatives; and Republican incumbent running for re-election, Marco Rubio. Also on the Monroe County ballot are Libertarian Paul Stanton; and with no party affiliation: Tony Khoury, Bruce Nathan, Steven Machat, and Basil E. Dalack.
Murphy has largely won the endorsement of environmentalists. Why? Murphy has signed the NowOrNeverglades declaration. And his press release pages show his willingness to move environmental legislation forward. Meanwhile, Rubio has a track record of prioritizing profit over nature. But Murphy's short time in public office - and no Everglades policy voting history to reference - may leave voters hungry for hard proof that he's ready to act on environmental policy acute to south Florida.
Rubio began his political career in 2000, in the House of Representatives. He left in 2008 due to term limits. He was elected as U.S. Senator in 2010. He suspended his re-election campaign earlier this year for Presidential aspirations, but re-entered the race after losing the Republican Presidential primary.
Endorsement of biofuels, solar panels and energy efficiency gives Rubio's platform a dusting of pro-environment rhetoric. But his environmental policies steer around science in favor of agriculture and development. Voting history shows his disregard for Everglades restoration. A few examples:
- In 2003, Rubio worked with Jeb Bush on a bill lowering Everglades water quality requirements;
- Rubio voted NO on a 2013 WRDA Amendment, designed to award a slice of offshore energy development revenues to esteemed think tanks, for research and restoration projects in coastal and marine environments;
- Plus, his campaign gets hearty support from Florida's sugar industry; and
- He has not signed the NowOrNeverglades declaration.
Rubio takes a lot of credit for passing WRDA 2016 in the Senate. To read the news, it was Rubio who singlehandedly ushered this bill through. Passing WRDA is significant in that it directs $1.9 billion dollars to fund CEP projects. BUT, we have heard Rubio say time and time again that he is NOT for buying land south of the Lake in the EAA. He is against pursuing the one piece of the puzzle that will make a critical difference to the Florida Bay.
Rubio's solution for the recent blue-green algal blooms: Hold off on buying EAA land - instead, dole out disaster loans to aid impacted businesses, and reinforce the ailing Lake Okeechobee dike so it can hold more water. Neither of which will improve the health of the Everglades.
Murphy, described by some as the most conservative Democrat, was a Republican until his disillusionment with the Tea Party movement prompted him to shift. Serving only two terms in the House of Representatives, since 2012, he has no discernible voting record on environmental policy. Everglades-related legislation didn't come across his desk.
However, Murphy has:
- Signed the NowOrNeverglades declaration;
- Said that he'd push for bills to combat blue-green algae blooms;
- Publicly prodded the Army Corps of Engineers to fast-track high-impact Everglades projects including the EAA land buy;
- Introduced a bill to secure matching Federal funds for waterway conservation, asking the Florida legislature and Gov. Scott to agree to identify and buy the essential land south of Lake Okeechobee; and
- Reports show his campaign has accepted little or no money from big sugar.
Murphy said, "We need to do everything we can in making sure we are identifying the correct land not only for storage, but for sending this water south."
Murphy's position should sound appealing to environmentalists. Yet polls reflect some voter ambiguity. The race is close and election day is just six weeks away.
Tell Murphy you like where he's headed. Copy:
Thank you for supporting Everglades restoration. Strengthen your campaign and the call to environmental voters. Continue to advocate - in the public and in legislature - for buying EAA land, building a clean water reservoir and sending that water south when needed.
Click the button below. Paste in the 'Message' field.
Tell Rubio that he needs to get on board with the EAA land buy. Copy:
Thank you for your support of WRDA 2016. But we need more. Without the EAA land buy, all other efforts are in vain. To survive, the Everglades needs even more water. Sign the NowOrNeverglades declaration. Advocate - publicly and in legislature - for the purchase of land south of Lake Okeechobee, the building of a clean water reservoir, and sending that water south as needed.
Click the button below. Paste in the 'Your Message' field.