SB10 made it over its next hurdle in the Senate this week, although not without a few surprises. Sen. Bradley opened by reiterating the inexcusable conditions that coastal communities experienced as a result of toxic discharges. He noted that a State of Emergency is in most cases created by an act of God, but this was a glaring exception. Our 242-day exposure to dangerous cyanobacteria and the tremendous economic loss that resulted were self-inflicted. “This from a state that brags about its water.”
People from all across the state traveled to address the committee with personal stories. Captain Adam Morley of St. Augustine reminded the council that the effects of toxic algae are a shared burden throughout Florida. “When the gates open up, the guides down there are displaced and they come up to where the water is still healthy, destabilizing the local industry that I work on. This is not just a South Florida issue – it is a state-wide issue, it affects all of us.”
Leader Braynon, a vocal advocate for the glades, shocked the room with an unexpected declaration of support for the bill, acknowledging a set of amendments that included economic stimulus for the area. He called it a step in the right direction, but apparently changed his mind. After listening to public testimony for and against the bill, he pulled his supporting vote, casting the committee’s only “no.”
Braynon blamed the exchange of permanent union jobs for temporary jobs related to reservoir construction for his reversal, saying they were insufficient to offset the economic deterioration already suffered by the communities, which he compared to earthquake- and hurricane-torn Haiti. While it’s true that Glades communities have long been in need of economic opportunity and decent jobs, it's a stretch to compare them to Haiti. Braynon should consider the thousands of good design, engineering, and construction jobs that CERP’s 50-year, $20 billion price tag will create, and work to ensure that many of them go to the communities that he feels resemble the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Braynon’s lone dissenting vote is a reminder that, even as SB10 advances through appropriations, it still has a long way to go. In order to make this a win-win for all stakeholders, committee leaders will need to continue to show a combination of strength and empathy for both sides of the narrative.