Environment Becomes an Issue in Gubernatorial Race
Around the State
With a tough election looming in November, Gov. Rick Scott looked to showcase his commitment to the environment while his chief rival went on the attack this week.
Scott, state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Sec. Herschel Vinyard and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs held a media event on Friday to announce 11 wastewater and stormwater projects are getting more than $27 million in loans from DEP’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
“It’s wonderful to hear that Orange County has been included in today’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program announcement,” Jacobs said. “We are deeply committed to protecting our cherished natural resources, and to ensuring and maintaining water quality. Upgrading the Eastern Water Reclamation Facility will help us maintain our excellent water quality record, and will help to ensure clean water for future generations.”
Three projects are getting the bulk of the money with Cocoa Beach getting $6 million for sewer rehabilitation and stormwater improvements, Orange County’s Eastern Water Reclamation Facility in Orlando is getting the same amount for improvements while a sewer project in Lake Wales is also getting $6 million. Other communities are getting less funds, with Cape Canaveral getting $3.9 million, Daytona Beach getting more than $2.2 million for two projects, $1.5 million headed to Gulfport, Umatilla receiving $800,000, two projects in Tavares getting $700,000 and South Daytona receiving $160,000.
Legislative leaders from the area applauded the loans on Friday.
“This money will help the residents of Umatilla reduce the potential for flooding and also treat storm water, which carries nutrients into our water bodies,” said Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla. “Gov. Scott and DEP continue to show a willingness to address these issues throughout Florida.”
Scott is trailing in the polls to former Gov. Charlie Crist. Despite spending most of his political career as a Republican, Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott in November. Earlier this week, Crist pointed to a Politifact story focusing on Scott’s commitment to spending on the evironment and went on the attack.
“Rick Scott claims he's invested ‘record funding’ in protecting our environment. Unfortunately, that's simply not true,” Crist insisted on Monday.
The former governor maintained Scott was more concerned with padding his record for November instead of actually caring about the environment.
“Isn't it time we had a governor who truly cared about conserving our environment instead of just playing election-year games?” Crist asked.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.