Lawmakers reject extremist “rights of nature” movement, pass sweeping water quality bill

by | Mar 12, 2020

Florida lawmakers passed a water-pollution cleanup bill that has been described as the historic advance in water policy Floridians have longed for. The purpose of the bill is to help protect Florida’s environment by making long-term investments in water quality.

The bill was filed by Senator Debbie Mayfield and calls for investment in Florida water quality by collecting improved water data and eliminating a bizarre legal philosophy that could undercut past and ongoing environmental restoration and protection efforts. The bill would also Increase inspections and investing in septic to sewer conversions. Leaky septic tanks are one of the biggest sources of algae-causing pollutants in Florida.

The legislation prevents the extremist “rights of nature” movement from granting legal “rights” to some water bodies and from granting legal standing to nearly any person to sue an individual, organization, business or government for otherwise lawful activities.

Representative Bobby Payne, sponsor of the House companion bill (HB 1343), recently championed the importance of this legislation on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

“I would say it’s a comprehensive package that really looks at how we’re going to address nutrient loading coming from our water bodies,” said Payne, “Those loadings are coming from on-site sewage treatment systems, sanitary sewer overflows, domestic wastewater overflows, some agricultural BMPs that we need to tighten up and get some better records on. Let’s face it, we know we’re at a point, and the Governor pointed it out, if we don’t do some things now, we’ll continue to have problems in the future.”

According to the Florida Pheonix, Florida Chief Science Officer Tom Frazer defended his praise of water-quality legislation, despitet environmentalists who say it is designed to fail and protects polluters.

“I stand by my statement [published in the Sarasota Bradenton-Herald] that SB 712 is one of the most progressive and comprehensive pieces of legislation that we have seen in over a decade,” Frazer said in remarks issued by his office.

“SB 712 addresses a broad suite of nutrient sources that affect Florida’s water quality – including septic tanks, wastewater, agriculture, and stormwater. This legislation is a step forward on every front.”

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for signature.


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