PEER Report: Rick Scott Has Neutered Florida's Environmental Enforcement

Categories: Environment

800px-FEMA_-_16365_-_Photograph_by_Win_Henderson_taken_on_09-28-2005_in_Louisiana.jpg
Win Henderson via Wikimedia Commons
"Nothing going on here, just checking the water's pH. Not cleaning up toxic chemicals. Nope."
As part of its effort to watchdog Rick Scott's administration, the Florida arm of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) combs through the annual data about the caseload of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The thinking goes that a shrinking number of corrective actions by the state's environmental coppers is proof-positive that the governor is letting polluters and other Earth baddies get off (Rick) Scott-free. The group just released a report examining 2013, and the depressing hypothesis seems to be holding.

To put the numbers in perspective, FDEP monitors around 75,000 permits for environmental infractions. According to the report, which you can read here, in 2013 the department opened a surprisingly low number of new cases into reported problems: 210.

For some sense of how that stacks up to years prior: in 2012, the same department initiated 663 cases. In 2011, it did 1,147. 2010, it had 1,587. That's an 87 percent drop between 2010 and 2013. Between 2010 and 2007, the numbers hovered in the 1,500 ballpark, so obviously there's been some kind of radical change.

Theoretically, you could look at those figures and think that permit-holders are just finally getting the memo about following environmental code. This is what FDEP says the numbers mean. So that would indicate human beings are finally learning to be nice to nature in Florida... probably not.

What PEER suggests these startling stats show is that the department has basically been declawed under Rick Scott's watch, particularly under the FDEP's current secretary, Hershel Vinyard.

"These latest numbers are beyond pathetic; they are downright shocking," Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips stated in a news release after the data were released Thursday. "My concern is that DEP enforcement capacity may have atrophied so much that the agency is irretrievably broken."

PEER has also broken the data down by regions across the state, so we can get a feel for how little environmental enforcement is going on in South Florida. In the Southeastern district for 2013 FDEP worked... 18 cases. In 2012, the region saw 56 cases. The year before that, 128. Cue the sad trombone music, because this is some truly ugly news.

Send your story tips to the author, Kyle Swenson.

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5 comments
OrlandoChris
OrlandoChris

Folks, it all comes down to recognition. We need to spread the word about Adrian Wyllie in order for him to win. I am very much behind the “super brochure” plan, so much so, that I personally have completely covered my entire precinct where I live. I think it’s the most affective and economical way to bring the super voters, attention to Adrian Wyllie. Most don’t even know there is another choice other than scott/crist. It only cost me $47.50 to cover my precinct. I urge others to do the same. If you want him elected, you must do something to make it happen. Just your one vote will not do it. Take advantage of this great opportunity we have to get a Libertarian in the Governor’s office. We (Floridians) desperately need this. I beg you to do what you can. www.WyllieForGovernor.com

OrlandoChris
OrlandoChris

Adrian Wyllie is the only sane choice. It's hard to understand why anyone would want scott or crist again. Both failed miserably. Adrian deserves my vote (and yours too) simply because he is honest, along with many, many other good reasons. I believe all that is needed is name recognition and for people to know there is another choice beside the same old corrupt candidates. Support Adrian by donating to his campaign and also the super brochure program, which I think is very powerful. Visit his website today: www.WyllieForGovernor.com

josephmvasquez
josephmvasquez

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Environment_first
Environment_first

@OrlandoChris You are not seriously suggesting that a Libertarian would be better for Florida's environment are you? There can't be ENOUGH rules and regulations and punishment for polluters, so God forbid that guy even get's near Tallahassee!!!

Charlie Crist is the best possible alternative Florida's environment has!

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