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Nancy Smith

Hyper-Partisanship Once Again Poised to Kill the Environmentalist Agenda

April 16, 2015 - 6:00pm

Carrying the environmental Send the Water South banner, columnist Sally Swartz, who generally runs her message in The Palm Beach Post, commenced to scolding a local politician in a column this week on the all-opinion website Context Florida.

"In fight to buy sugar land, Joe Negron needs to step up," readsSally's headline, and the storybacks it up. Have a look for yourself.

It's the darndest thing.

This is why the inhabitants of Florida's rad environmental community, like Hobbits who live in a world where most conversations are with themselves, are about to suffer another crushing defeat.

They are so blinded by their hatred of all things Republican that once again they stand poised to defeat themselves.

Case in point is this latest top priority of moving water south from Lake Okeechobee as the means to protecting the St. Lucie River and Indian River lagoon from harmful runoff.

Their myopic focus centers on a single demand of the Florida Legislature: spend $500 million to $700 million to buy 46,000 acres from U.S. Sugar Corp. Setting aside the merits or lack thereof of their plan and its proclaimed impact on the Everglades and the St. Luice estuary, their tactics for building support are ... well ... so completely suicidal.

Sally offers just the latest example of this all Republicans are evil and must be punished legislative strategy.

She takes aim at Sen. Joe Negron, who represents Martin and St. Lucie counties, ground zero on this issue. Negron is a Republican and is next in line to become Senate president, which apparently is the reason Sally and the Everglades Foundation storm troopers are attacking him. Where I struggle with their logic is once again rooted in the facts.

In 2013 Negron single-handedly convened and chaired theSelect Committeeon the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basinto address the runoff deluge during the algae bloom crisis. He then pushed a massive $200 million funding package through the Legislature to fast-track storage and clean-up projects that directly benefit the St. Lucie River. It was Negron who called on Congress to authorize state jurisdiction over Lake Okeechobee releases, Negron who commissioned the University of Florida scientific study to assess what would work to address the problem. And Negron is also the only senator -- the only one -- willing to publicly suggest all land acquisition ideas should be considered.

This is a lawmaker enviros want to sucker punch?

Ironically, a Democratic politician from the same area whose biggest contribution toward solving the crisis has been leading the River Kidz in the Pledge of Allegiance, Congressman Patrick Murphy is exalted as the estuarys messiah.

Meanwhile, in return for the Republican Negrons efforts, the obvious course of action for the environmentalist crowd is to go on the attack. Which is how, I predict, they will defeat themselves over the sugar land buy.

I remember the week in 2013 when Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson arrived in Martin County with empty pockets and empty promises and got a hero's welcome. A couple of days later Gov. Rick Scott flew in with $40 million to help solve the polluted St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon and he was booed mercilessly by sign-waving enviros and an activist local press.

Frankly, this is nothing new. Over the years I've seen environmentalists employ this kind of partisan bullying to get their way plenty of times, but I've never actually seen it work.

A curious strategy for motivation, this flogging a politician in the public square. Any wonder why other GOP lawmakers -- many of whose home phone numbers were given out by the enviros and local press -- aren't lining up for their turn under the whip ... and, in fact are running in the other direction?

For those who see the environmentalists' sugar-land agenda as the wrong way to go, there's no real worry about killing a bad idea. Sally Swartz and other send-the-water-south proponents are taking care of it all by themselves. Just keep listening for the sound of the implosion.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

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