Dear Friends of Florida waters:

I wanted to write to you as soon as I got home last night, but weeks of prep for yesterday’s meeting with the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC) left me with zero energy.  Today I am recharged and happy to report to you that the ERC rejected Gov. Rick Scott and DEP’s plan to allow more toxic chemicals in Florida waters.  Yes, because of your dedication, focus and willingness to give generously of your time and energy, the six ERC members refused to support Rick Scott and DEP’s proposal to increase cancer-causing discharges to Florida’s fish, waters and citizens.

YES, WE WON!!! For the time. They told DEP to come back in the late summer or early fall with a better proposal, that addresses our issues, etc. They were not comfortable with this plan – AT ALL!!!

Thank you to everyone who helped get the petition to Rick Scott signed, who signed our letters to the Gov. and ERC members and who helped spread the word about this important issue. There will be more work to do, but for the moment we need to feel content, blessed and to restore our energy for all the other important work that calls in our local communities. We are a community of people who care and who are willing to give of ourselves for a greater cause, even when the odds are against us. Sometimes, miracles happen. Yesterday, a miracle happened. Please enjoy the fruit of your efforts and know that your efforts made a difference for Florida’s waters, our future and especially our children.

I want to particularly thank the team of dedicated people who attended the hearing and gave excellent testimony.  If you have a chance to thank them personally, please do!  They were inspiring and truly made the difference between winning and losing on this critically important issue. Here’s a few examples:

1.  Dr Ron Saff – a CWN-FL board member, physician in Tallahassee provided excellent medical perspective.
2.  Three Riverkeepers from around the state:
Marty Baum, Indian River Lagoon – gave captivating and heart wrenching testimony about the dolphins, manatees and pelicans that are dying daily in SE Florida.  He also told a personal story about childhood cancer in his family that brought tears to every eye in the room (well, maybe not the polluter lawyers’ eyes, but most of the room was tearing up).
Brad Hartman with the Apalachicola Riverkeeper group – talked about the low-income people in his area that depend on local waters to provide food for their families. Very helpful and important information from a very credible source.
Biscayne Bay Riverkeeper – I apologize that I’ve forgotten this impressive young man’s name, but he offered the perspective of a young man who is planning to have a family and looking forward to sharing the water with his children in the same ways that he enjoyed them as he grew up in Florida.
3.  Rich Johnson spoke on behalf of the Panacea Waterfront Partnership, offering the business perspective of restaurant owners, fishermen, hotels, etc. that depend on clean water and healthy fish to attract visitors to the coast of Wakulla County.
4.  Gail Dickert – challenged DEP’s claim to the ERC members that all of Florida’s waters are “clean” of toxins as she shared her life in Taylor County.  She gave a heart felt account of watching the Fenholloway River go from being a destination resort location and health spa when she was a child to watching Proctor and Gamble and now Buckeye turn it into a black, sick toxic river of death.  Very compelling testimony!!!

The man who has done the heavy lifting on this issue and kept it moving forward for the past 20 years is attorney David Ludder.  Mr. Ludder unfortunately was unable to attend the hearing yesterday due to health matters.  However, he has been working long hours in recent months on this and has dedicated hundreds and hundreds of hours of his time over the past 20 years.  He has received very little financial compensation for this important work, but he is committed to protecting not only our valuable resources but also committed to protecting human health, especially the most vulnerable populations.  If you would like to thank Mr Ludder for his long-time service with a check, please make it out to David Ludder and send it to the CWN-FL address below and I will make sure that he gets it.  I’m sure he will spend many more hours in coming months trying to bring this issue to a final, victorious closure.

Equally critical to the outcome of this effort was the dedication and assistance of former ERC chairman Dick Batchelor who wrote several opinion pieces on the subject and submitted them to papers all around the state in advance of yesterday’s meeting.  They were published in:  Orlando Sentinel; Tampa Bay Times; Gainesville Sun; Florida Today; Ft Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and maybe others.  Mr Batchelor has dedicated his life to helping children and was a fair and balanced chairman when he served on the ERC.  Former ERC commissioners Muriel Wagner and Dr. Raymond Bellamy also put their considerable clout and credibility behind this effort and helped enormously.  We very much appreciate these former ERC Commissioners who continue to serve the citizens of Florida even after their terms have passed.

There were many other people who have given freely of their time and talents and you know who you are.  We all thank you for caring about Florida, its people, its wildlife and its future. If I’ve left anyone out from yesterday’s meeting, please forgive my poor memory.

Many of you have sent financial support for this work and please know that your contributions, large and small, made it possible for us to keep working on this issue for the past 20 years.  Thank you for making the protection of Florida’s waters a priority.  We use every dollar very carefully and stretch them as much as humanly possible!

For all of Florida’s waters,
Linda Young, Director

Clean Water Network of FL
P.O. Box 5124
Navarre, FL  32566

About the Author

Linda Young has been the executive director of the Clean Water Network of Florida since 1994. From 1989 to 1997, she founded and published a monthly statewide environmental newspaper. Over the past twenty three years, she has co-founded some of the most long-lasting and effective environmental organizations in the Southeast, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Gulf Coast Environmental Defense and C.A.T.E. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Southern Oregon University and a M.A. in Political Science/Campaign Management from the University of West Florida.

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