Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sierra Club Blasts Rick Scott for Everglades Election Stunt

For Immediate Release                                           Contact:  Frank Jackalone
October 30, 2018                                                                       frank.jackalone@sierraclub.org

Sierra Club Blasts Rick Scott for Everglades Election Stunt

Opening of Tamiami Trail Bridge Excludes Everglades Groups

St. Petersburg, FL – Rick Scott held a news conference today to announce the completion of the second phase of the Tamiami Trail bridging project.

In response, Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone issued the following statement:

“Governor Rick Scott held a self-serving, restricted attendance media event just one week before Election Day that was disguised as a major Everglades announcement.  It’s political pandering at its worst designed to benefit his election campaign against US Senator Bill Nelson.  

“What was the rush?  Scott’s advisory was released less than three hours before the Miami press conference.  

“Instead of using the media event to celebrate a shared federal-state success on the Tamiami Trail bridging, Scott used it to attack Congress for not spending more money on Everglades projects.  Could he get more political?  

“And the map that was linked in his ‘announcement’ is obvious electioneering.  Rick Scott is not the champion of 42 projects, many of which were begun way before he was first elected Governor.  

“Environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, the National Parks Conservation Association, Audubon Florida, Center for Biological Diversity, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, the Conservancy of SW Florida, Florida Oceanographic Society, and other members of the Everglades Coalition that advocated for the project and provided input on the Tamiami Trail bridging project to the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service for more than a decade weren’t invited to attend.  We learned about it from photos of the event posted this morning by Lieutenant Governor Carlos-Lopez Cantera.

“A great many people worked on building those bridges from the time the Sierra Club placed it on the public agenda as the “Everglades Skyway.” For the Governor to slight the very groups that brought us to this day is an insult and a rewriting of history to serve his political ends.  Did he fear that Everglades supporters would show up holding Red Tide Rick protest signs?
“Scott is desperately trying to whitewash his environmental record as he tries to unseat Senator Bill Nelson in the current election.  As Florida’s Governor, Scott gutted enforcement of clean water rules in Florida instead of stopping the pollution that fueled Florida’s toxic algae and red tide crisis.  He spent eight years blocking efforts to clean the very water that would go under the Tamiami Trail bridges and installing water managers to do Big Sugar’s bidding.

“Scott scuttled growth management in Florida and replaced it with plans for new sprawling cities that would eliminate much of Florida’s rural farmland, bulldoze over wildlife habitat, and threaten the State’s depleted water supply.  For eight years as governor, he stood idly by, denying climate change and abrogating his responsibility to work with state, national, and world leaders to stop the carbon pollution that is bringing rising seas and ever-stronger hurricanes to Florida and is threatening the very existence of the Everglades.  

“Scott sabotaged our best chance of restoring the Everglades and protecting the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee river estuaries when he publicly rejected Governor Charlie Crist’s historic contract to acquire 187,000 acres of sugar land that would allow us to move excess Lake Okeechobee water south to the Everglades.   In its place, he and his water managers have designed a risky, 23 foot deep reservoir on a tiny footprint that is missing the wetlands needed to clean the contaminated water from Lake Okeechobee that the reservoir will hold.

“Rick Scott is no champion of the Everglades – far from it.”