“How could Florida let this happen again?”

In an egregious display of disregard for our state’s waterways, the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of Senate Bill 2508

today in Tallahassee. It’s a toxic stew of bad proposals that undermine Florida’s environmental protections and protect powerful industries — most notably Big Sugar.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ben Albritton, a citrus farmer, deflected pointed criticism from environmental groups, including Friends of the Everglades, and many fishing guides who attended the hearing to object. Albritton claimed opponents had been “misled” about the true intent of the bill — but he failed to dispel our concerns.

The video above of Friends of the Everglades policy director Gil Smart outlines several of the important reasons that we are justifiably wary of impacts this bill would have on clean water, public health and Florida’s economy. With several terrible years of toxic algae still fresh in our memories, Gil Smart was right to remind the senators of the toxic algae that afflicted our waterways in 2013, 2016, and 2018, when we “became a national and international story with people around the world wondering how could Florida let this happen?” Today, he asked senators, “Why would we let it happen again?”

Despite this, only a small handful of committee senators stood with clean-water advocates, voting “No” on SB 2508. The rest of them showed a sorry lack of understanding and empathy, bordering on flagrant disrespect for concerns expressed by members of the public — many of whom drove six or more hours to be in the room.

We are deeply disappointed in the decision made today, and will continue to track this legislation and advocate against it as it moves forward.

To read the comments Gil delivered today in full, click here.