Growth by Erosion

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, March 22, 2011 No Comment(s)


It isn't plagiarism if you cite the source, and today we steal from The Miami Herald's Fred Grimm, who today devoted his column to criticizing our new governor for omitting beach replenishment from his budget. There has been a chorus of boos as officials around the state realize that one of Florida's greatest assets is now an endangered species. Next to the warm sun, the ocean and beach are what keeps tourists coming year after year. And anyone who has lived near a beach knows that it isn't forever. Storms and other natural elements wear beaches away, sometimes very drastically. After the hurricanes of a few years back, some beaches were like small cliffs, a mini-version of California, where bluffs often plummet to the sea.

How important are the beaches? Grimm quoted an expert saying that every dollar spent on beach preservation returns $8 in tourism and the like.

The good news in Grimm's piece came at the end, where he reported that the Senate Government Appropriations Committee seemed to ignore the governor by budgeting $16 million for 12 beach restoration projects. We have a feeling that this is going to turn into a pattern with this governor, in which legislators hearing the howls from home are going to get around his stated desire to save the state by killing what makes it work.

The Sun-Sentinel today had its own story on Tallahassee travail. It detailed the effort, this time in the legislature, to make doing business in the state easier by eliminating regulations that some businesses don't like. The idea is to override the power of local municipalities to impose restrictions on all sorts of things. It was a very long article, far beyond the attention span of the average Sun-Sentinel subscriber, but some of the points legislators (lobbyists is more accurate) make seem sensible. Others, however, are scary, and seem to forecast what many fear about this governor.

Example: Fertilizer interests want to invalidate local rules restricting the sale and use of fertilizer. This at a time when one of Florida's greatest environmental problems, which we have been fighting for years, is the pollution of Lake Okeechobee, and by extension the estuaries on both coasts, as well as the longer distance effects on the Everglades. Fertilizer may be great food for crops, but it is poison to everything else.

It is hard to believe such damaging legislation could be considered right after the state manage to get a very trimmed down program to buy U.S. Sugar land to begin correct damage to the Everglades which began 100 years ago and has gotten worse as land meant to be swamp was drained for agriculture. Swamp should never have become farmland, but 100 years ago few realized it. Today we do understand, just as we understand that dunes never should have been replaced by tall buildings close to the water's edge.

It appears that this administration, and those elected officials who support it, are willing to enact laws to kill laws — to seek a short term financial gain and leave the problems they create to the next generation, or the next administration.

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