Governor DeSantis Vetoes SB 2508
June 9, 2022
In a move that is a significant win for Florida’s environment—Governor DeSantis exercised his executive power to veto Senate Bill 2508. This bill would have undermined the extensive work by SCCF and our partners to base the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) on sound science and an equitable distribution of water. It would have had a chilling effect on water management decisions related to discharges from Lake Okeechobee, perpetuating the harmful “hold and dump” practices that currently allow for high-volume discharges to our coastal communities during the wet season. In addition, the bill would have accelerated the destruction of wetlands by allowing private reviewers to process expedited dredge and fill permits for utilities, resulting in further deterioration of water quality. Furthermore, it would have negatively impacted the Florida Forever land acquisition program by allowing the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to compete with the Department of Environmental Protection for state funding.
We thank Governor DeSantis for demonstrating great political courage in vetoing this harmful bill. Our coastal communities in Southwest Florida have been devastated by declining water quality and harmful algal blooms for far too long. The red tide bloom in 2018 resulted in more the 425 tons of dead sea life being removed from the beaches of Sanibel, and more than $47 million in economic losses. Scientists with SCCF and the University of Florida’s Center for Coastal Solutions recently published data linking pollution from stormwater runoff and harmful algal blooms. We now know that preventing harmful nutrients from reaching the coast is one way to reduce the extent and severity of red tide events in the future. This is not only critical for the ecology of our coastal waters, but it is also essential for protecting the quality of life of our residents, and Florida’s economy.
SCCF remains engaged in the LOSOM process with the Army Corps, South Florida Water Management District, and our environmental partners to eliminate the harmful discharges that contribute to harmful algal blooms. With extensive modeling we have demonstrated that an equitable distribution of water can meet the needs of all stakeholders without any being sacrificed. By vetoing 2508, Governor DeSantis has confirmed that he is listening to stakeholders, and will not let politics take priority over sound science.
We sincerely thank all of you who spoke out against this harmful bill!