Friday, May 17, 2019

SIERRA CLUB RESPONDS TO SIGNING OF “TOLL ROADS TO NOWHERE” BILL BY GOVERNOR DESANTIS (PRESS RELEASE)


For Immediate Release                                            
May 17, 2019                                     
Contact:
Frank Jackalone, 727-824-8813, EXT. 302, 727-804-1317 (c), frank.jackalone@sierraclub.org
Tim Martin, 727-251-9979 timothymartin@suncoastsierra.org
Deborah Foote, 850-727-4039 (office), 251-533-1798 (c), deborah.foote@sierraclub.org


**PRESS RELEASE**

SIERRA CLUB RESPONDS TO SIGNING OF “TOLL ROADS TO NOWHERE” BILL BY GOVERNOR DESANTIS
Will destroy much of Florida’s remaining natural and rural areas

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (May 17, 2019) –
Governor Ron DeSantis today signed into law SB 7068, also known as the Toll Roads to Nowhere Bill.  In response, Sierra Club Florida issued the following statements:

Statement of Tim Martin, Sierra Club Florida Conservation Chair
Sierra Club Florida is deeply disappointed that Governor DeSantis has chosen to destroy much of Florida’s remaining natural and rural areas to build unnecessary and costly toll roads that won’t meet Florida’s true transportation needs. By ignoring the recommendations of the I- 75 Relief Task Force, the Governor’s decision to build the “roads to nowhere” will do nothing to address congestion in urban areas, and funding to support these new toll roads will be prioritized over other necessary transportation projects.”

“By building these toll roads, Florida stands to lose critical habitat for Florida panthers and black bears; protected lands and wildlife corridors risk being fragmented; and the roads and resultant development are likely to increase pollution - impacting Florida’s rivers and springs and increasing red tide and blue green algae outbreaks. Funding to plan for these toll roads will be diverted from general revenue, removing hundreds of millions of dollars from other critical areas such as education, healthcare, and the environment.”

“This decision will haunt the Governor. Every time he claims to be pro-environment going forward we will be forced to remind people of how, when faced with the biggest environmental decision in decades, he chose to side with wealthy landowners and industry interests. Teddy Roosevelt is probably rolling in his grave right now that a comparison was ever made between him and Governor DeSantis.”  

Statement of Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director:
“Governor DeSantis failed the people of Florida and our natural environment today. He signed a bill that would spend billions of taxpayer dollars to build 320 miles of toll roads traversing Florida’s pristine nature coast and rural heartland.  These roads are a gift to developers who want to convert hundreds of thousands of acres of forests, wetlands, and ranches into new cities, towns and subdivisions.”

“Ron DeSantis proved that he’s no Teddy Roosevelt.  During the Session, he stood by idly while the Legislature slashed funding for the Florida Forever Program and provided no funding for the Rural Lands Protection Program - disregarding the mandate of Florida’s voters set by Amendment One in 2014 to acquire and protect important conservation lands.  DeSantis also remained silent when Senate President Bill Galvano bullied the Legislature to accept his poorly thought out Toll Roads to Nowhere plan without even getting input from the Governor’s own staff at the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection.  Instead of heeding the strong concerns of environmental and community leaders, Governor DeSantis caved into pressure from Galvano and wealthy business interests that stand to profit from the three toll roads and the massive development that will accompany them.”

“It is a false narrative that building toll roads means economic development in rural areas. One only needs to look at I-10 between Tallahassee and Pensacola to see that it doesn’t happen. What will come is sprawl, local businesses replaced with gas stations, fast food restaurants and chain stores surrounding toll road interchanges, and the deterioration of robust downtowns due to being bypassed by the toll roads.”

“Sierra Club Florida will take every action in our power to prevent the construction of the three toll roads. We will join together and assist residents of communities whose homes, businesses and rural way of life will be threatened by these destructive roads. We will unite with taxpayers who don’t want to assume the costs of unneeded toll roads, and we will work with urban residents whose infrastructure and transit needs are being ignored by the State. We will go to court, demand a rehearing by the Legislature, and hold elected officials accountable for voting for this ruinous plan.”


State Senate President Galvano pats Governor DeSantis on the back at the signing ceremony for Toll Roads Bill.  Source: Florida Politics

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