Audubon of Florida Executive Director Eric Draper reports from the inauguration of Florida’s 45th governor, Rick Scott:
I managed to snag a VIP ticket to Rick Scott’s swearing in ceremony and was treated to the sight of four new members of Florida’s Cabinet begin their jobs in Tallahassee. Just after the cannons boomed and the jet fighters flew over, Governor Scott delivered a speech that promised new jobs and a review of every state regulation. The themes are not new to Scott or his predecessors. Scott did not mention Florida’s heritage of clean water, natural lands and diverse wildlife.
I listened and wondered just how the pressure to promote development will affect our hard won environmental laws. It is not really the new Governor I worry about. Lobbyists for special interest groups are lining up to promote water supply for new development, ending state wetlands regulation and giving away public lands. If Scott does nothing more than refuse to go along with these bad ideas, his four year term will be successful.
The other Cabinet members hold some promise. New Attorney General (AG) Pam Bondi retained some seasoned staff that may help her understand the Florida AG’s traditional role as defender of submerged lands.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is strongly committed to the Everglades and Florida Forever and stopped the rush to oil drilling in state waters.
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam has a good sense of conservation lands and the importance of protecting water resources. He is schedule to speak at the Everglades Coalition Conference this Friday. We are hopeful.
Audubon, its members and allies will work hard to make sure that Governor Scott, the new Cabinet and all members of the Legislature stay balanced as they look to reduce the role of government.