Last week, the Conservancy shared with you the tremendous news that Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed SB 2508, a bill that would have resulted in untold negative impacts to our precious natural resources. We again thank all of you who took action, reaching out to the Governor and asking him to veto this legislation.
Today, we want to publically thank Governor DeSantis for his continued steadfast support of the Everglades, water policy and due process, as demonstrated by his veto.
Each Legislative Session, one bill seems to rise to the forefront of the public’s mind, to the point that you only have to say the bill number, and everyone knows what you’re talking about. This year, SB 2508 was the legislation that claimed such notoriety, as the bill’s sponsors tried – unsuccessfully – to masquerade significant policy changes as a mere budget-conforming bill.
SB 2508 was introduced mid-session by Senator Albritton, allowing only one public hearing and severely limiting the public’s ability to provide critical input on important legislation that would have negatively impacted our environment and our economy.
With those proposed changes, some of the harmful elements of the bill, which favored agricultural water supply over the needs of the Everglades and coastal estuaries, were removed.
The Strength of Partnerships: Importance of LOSOM and SB 2508
While some appeared sufficiently satisfied with these last-minute modifications, the Conservancy partnered with Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) and Friends of the Everglades to remain steadfast in our vocal opposition to this legislation.
Our continued, collaborative opposition was based on the fact that SB 2508, even as amended, would have undermined the new Lake Okeechobee System Operations Manual (LOSOM) and had a chilling effect on state water managers by perpetuating the harmful “hold and dump” practices for management of Lake Okeechobee. The result would have been reduced beneficial flows to the Caloosahatchee and Everglades during the dry season and increased damaging high-volume discharges to our coastal communities during the wet season.
It is important to note, that the LOSOM process is one in which the Conservancy in partnership with SCCF deployed our resources, in particular Dr. Paul Julian, who serves as our joint hydrologic modeler in support of our water quality efforts. Dr. Julian’s efforts during the LOSOM negotiations were and remain of particular importance. His expertise allowed for a clearer understanding of what models for LOSOM would benefit the West Coast and which models would actually make things worse for our regional waters. SCCF-Conservancy were the only groups on the West Coast providing independent critique of the proposed hydrologic models, and played a leadership role in shaping a more balanced outcome. It was this more balanced outcome that riled the agribusiness community and which drove them to introduce SB 2508 to cut LOSOM off at the knees. This, in turn, would have ensured that big Ag received all the benefits, and put downstream and coastal communities, and water quality as a secondary consideration.
Additional Negative Impacts Prevented:
- Language that unnecessarily required legislative ratification of new water rules designed to address water allocation during the dry season, both complicating and delaying rulemaking and moving decision-making away from those who live and work in the areas (and ecosystems) most harmed by the water shortages.
- An allowance that public entities, including utilities, would be able to pay to expedite their wetland permits, expanding and accelerating the destruction of wetlands and exacerbating impacts to water quality.
- Modification to the current Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Rural and Family Lands program to allow for fee-simple acquisition of lands, duplicating and potentially competing with the underfunded Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Forever Land Acquisition Program.
Due to the efforts of the Conservancy, strong partnerships, and outcry from citizens like you, the Governor vetoed the bill on June 8.
Thank you, Governor DeSantis, for supporting due process, scientific integrity, and good public policy by vetoing SB 2508!
Please take the time to thank the Governor for vetoing SB2508 by contacting him at: email@example.com