No dang wetland should ever interfere with the pursuit of profit!

February 24, 2020 7:00 am
Florida wetlands

Florida wetlands. J Hauserman photo

OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE — Stop worrying your pretty little head. The state of Florida knows what’s best for that ecosystem thingamajig, so sit back, relax, maybe have one of those craft beers the kids are so crazy about, and let the governor and the Legislature take care of the water.

Our water. Your water.

You will surely agree the state has done a bang-up job protecting our vital H2O-type resources, especially springs, a number of which have become almost as clear as a fine cup of coffee, and rivers, several of which are as green as our lush St. Augustine grass.

(We’re working on that toxic algae, swear to God.)

Now we have a new idea and it is genius!

See, the Deep Staters of the federal government have long been in charge of most Florida wetlands permits, and boy, are they not in a hurry!

They get the Army Corps of Engineers, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and a slew of unelected bureaucrats and so-called “scientists” involved, and the next thing you know, the tree-huggers and the bunny-lovers have had time to gin up opposition to your beautiful plan to, say, dredge sea grass beds to build a deep water marina and build a huge resort on land that floods if you stare at it hard.

So unfair.

Sometimes that international bank or that kindly oligarch willing to finance the whole thing gets tired of waiting and goes off to fund, say, a Trump golf course or an aluminum-rolling mill in Kentucky.

Not to mention all the lawsuits filed by radical Enviros who think we should all ride bikes and live in huts made from woven Clif Bar wrappers.


Never fear: The state has a plan to fix the Greens’ little red wagon.

Florida’s own DEP wants to take over wetlands permitting, cutting out all that Corps of Engineers and Clean Water Act nonsense that didn’t do anything but get in the way of our state’s struggling property developers.

DEP says this “will enhance the protection of Florida’s wetlands by having the same statewide team of environmental experts who are already administering Florida’s robust wetlands protection program also administer the similar federal 404 program.”

For those who don’t speak Florida bull pucky, “enhance” means “destroy.”

And quite right, too! Imagine: You want to mow down a bunch of unsightly oak trees, fill in a few soggy acres, and build a lovely strip mall with a Panera, a Publix, and other institutions vital to human life.

At the moment, you can’t pull up so much as a pitcher plant without having the Corps establish whether that stupid creek you want to pave over somehow connects to the Gulf of Mexico or has some kind of passing acquaintance with the aquifer.

This is no way to encourage clean, healthy sprawl.

But just put our own dear Department of Environmental Prostitution in charge, and the money will flow like that no-count waterway used to.

Way back in 2006, DEP put forth the idea of taking wetlands permitting away from Washington and doing it all in-house. Jeb Bush was governor then, you know, the man famous for canoeing down the pristine Ichetucknee River and then approving construction of a cement plant next to it.

At the time, DEP didn’t think it had the expertise or the money to perform effective wetlands assessments.

But along comes Rick “I like my fish dead” Scott, a man who never let ignorance and an under-resourced agency get in the way of making the construction lobby happy.

Once his fellow bidnessman Donald Trump parked himself in the White House, Scott got serious about letting the state — which protects fewer wetlands than the feds anyway — weaken the regulations and worm out of caring about keeping the Waters of the United States clean.

Even though DEP can’t handle the job.

OK, hell: especially because they can’t handle the job! This is America! No dang wetland should ever interfere with the pursuit of profit!

Current Gov. Ron DeSantis has now proudly picked up Scott’s mantle, though a little more discreetly, since he’s suckered some of those tree-hugger, bunny-loving characters into thinking he’s one of them.

Sure, the usual suspects — your Florida Wildlife Federations, your Earthjustices, your Sierra Clubs, and all those geeks who think that just because wetlands filter water pollution, sustain wildlife, and mitigate storm water they’re entitled to more consideration than, say, a lovely golf course community or an attractive new prison — are hollering and objecting and whatnot.

The managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Florida office says DEP “can’t even manage to enforce the environmental laws already under its purview.”

So negative.

As if our government would ever do anything to hurt you.

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Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.