Florida environment: A wish list for 2007

To greet the new year, there are so many wish lists it is hard to know what to want. So let’s give it up for the environment, in no particular order, that:

Florida’s agencies charged with protecting public health and the environment shall abandon predetermined outcomes based on political expediency.

Cost considerations — for instance, land prices bid up by speculators — shall no longer guide policy decisions for what is most protective of people, our air and water, and our wilderness heritage such as Everglades restoration.

When the state purchases environmentally sensitive land, the beneficiaries — whether corporate or private — shall be required to disclose any campaign contributions to politicians or political parties in the previous five years.

Florida shall become the solar-energy capital of the world, with a massive effort to reward consumers and industry to reform the state’s electricity grid.

Public agency managers shall never intimidate, pressure or reassign public employees for fulfilling job responsibilities that conflict with special interests.

Real campaign-finance reform will include the requirement that television broadcasters donate equal amounts of time to qualified candidates as a condition of their licenses to use public-spectrum airwaves.

Evangelical Christians shall continue to make progress linking poverty, illness and social inequity to the rising threats of toxics and global warming.

Insurance companies will explain to the Florida Legislature how the exorbitant increases in property insurance are, in fact, a consequence of global warming — it is here and now.

Fraudulent mitigation banking for wetland destruction is thrown into the dustbin of history.

The full extent and scale of aquifer destruction in Florida is disclosed by the state of Florida on an annual basis.

No aquifer layer shall be used as a future source of drinking water that has already been contaminated by the injection of municipal wastewater.

Congress passes fundamental and necessary reform of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including an independent audit of agency performance.

Political interference on permitting decisions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and federal Environmental Protection Agency ceases and desists.

State legislators and county and city commissioners shall be held individually and criminally liable for decisions during their tenure that damage public health by allowing toxins to contaminate drinking-water supplies, even after they have left office.

“One size does fit all” when it comes to regulating cancer-causing chemicals in the environment.

No re-use water in the state of Florida shall be released to the environment without removal of hormones and pharmaceuticals that end up in the waste-water stream.

The preference for massively expensive, engineered “solutions” to water supply shall be reversed in favor of maximizing the service of nature, by mandating protection of critical watersheds, springs and rivers.

All levels of government publicly swear that, in Florida, all surface waters are under the influence of ground water.

The notion of “unfunded mandates” be expanded to include mandates imposed by local county commissioners when their actions cause roadway congestion, the depletion of aquifers and the pollution of estuaries.

State government agencies, such as the water-management districts, shall be prohibited from spending public money for public relations, education and outreach in defense of policies that can be proved to be driven by politics and not science.

The state of Florida shall publish a yearly cash-flow statement based on the following: where income is defined as concrete results measured as new laws, enforcement or regulatory actions or new science to guide policy decisions, and where expenses are defined as man-hours and budgets spent on meetings, hotel rooms, travel, conferences, and public relations related to the environment.

All local and state elected officials shall be required to establish at least one district office in plain view of one of Florida’s environmental scars: a degraded spring, a vanishing lake, a neighborhood eaten by sinkholes, by a beach plagued with algae blooms, by devastated Lake Okeechobee and to be informed as to its cause on a daily basis.

Shall any public official willfully disregard this wish list incorporated as binding law by the state of Florida and local jurisdictions, the penalty for avoidance or disregard shall be one year of public service as a Good Samaritan on any of Florida’s congested urban highways at rush hour.

Happy New Year!

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