On June 23, Governor DeSantis’ Blue-Green Algae Task Force met for the first time in nearly eight months. Task Force members were interested in discussing their much-publicized recommended solutions to our state’s blue-green algae problems. But, there was one giant elephant in the virtual room: Governor DeSantis, originally credited with calling for the task force on his campaign trail, has largely ignored their recommendations.
The 2019 Task Force recommendations laid out some common-sense solutions, including setting and enforcing health and water quality criteria. Yet, the Governor and his allies in the legislature failed to include many of these recommendations in their self-proclaimed “Clean Waterways Act” of 2020 (SB 712).
Pressing the Governor to listen to his scientists and follow through with his commitments, Representative Joy Goff-Marcil and Senator Linda Stewart sponsored legislation (SB 1522) earlier this year to implement the remaining Task Force recommendations. Senate leadership largely neutered the bill and House leadership blocked its consideration. The Governor failed to offer any support and, as a result, no meaningful water legislation passed in 2021. Real environmental leadership from the Governor’s office could have made a difference.
During the meeting on June 23, Task Force members highlighted the importance of preventing pollution at the source, a clear recommendation laid out in their 2019 report. It’s a simple concept that the Governor and legislature have willfully overlooked, but the science couldn’t be more precise: prevention should always be our first strategy.
Holding polluters accountable and making them clean up their own mess is the Governor’s most essential and straightforward task. Unfortunately, it seems he is more interested in making Florida taxpayers pick up the tab by investing in expensive and shiny clean-up toys of unknown effectiveness.
The Governor uplifts the promise of technology as a distraction to hide his policy and leadership failures. In doing so, he sends a clear message to corporate polluters: they’re free to continue business-as-usual, even though Floridians are on the brink of another disastrous blue-green algae summer.
Floridians want healthy beaches and clean water. Send an email right now to your elected officials and Governor DeSantis! Tell them why you care about clean water and ask them to implement all the Blue-Green Algae Task Force’s recommendations.