Tired of stay-away Scott, Murphy brings algae water to governor’s office

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy outside Gov. Scott's office -- with algae water
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy outside Gov. Scott’s office — with algae water

Saying he was frustrated by Republican Rick Scott’s lack of action on the algae bloom plaguing the Treasure Coast, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter brought bottles of foul-smelling, toxic green water Tuesday to the governor’s office so he could see it first hand.

“I decided that I wanted to come to Tallahassee and deliver this bottle of toxic algae to the governor to make sure he sees exactly what we are dealing with on a day-to-day basis,” Murphy said, shortly after delivering a half-dozen bottles of the Indian River Lagoon water to the office.

Scott is out of town.

Murphy delivering bottles of algae-fouled water to Gov. Scott's office
Murphy delivering bottles of algae-fouled water to Gov. Scott’s office

“You see, my constituents have to wake up every morning and not only do they have to look at this, two-, three-, four-inches of algae on the surface. But they have to smell it, and that is something that is really hard to put into words, just how bad this really smells,” he added.

Scott, who has dashed to Orlando and Fort Myers to provide relief after recent mass-shootings, has mostly stayed away from the Treasure Coast during the algae outbreak, which has angered homeowners and inflamed environmental activists.

The governor did come to West Palm Beach in June to take part in a roundtable on the Zika virus. But unlike the man Murphy is hoping to unseat, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Scott chose not to go up the coast to observe the spreading algae and catch heat from area residents.

Instead, Scott asked the Obama administration to declare a federal emergency, which was declined. But that action has only added to Scott’s criticism of the president for failing to fund a replacement for the aging dike around Lake Okeechobee.

The Army Corps of Engineers has ordered water releases from the big lake to ease stress on the dike, sending farm- and septic-tank polluted water flowing into the Indian River estuary and and Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida.

Scott also has turned focus away from the sugar industry and other politically influential farming giants as a source of the dirty water. Instead, the governor

Scott’s office wasn’t pleased by Murphy’s arrival.

“It’s disappointing that he has spent more time on a stunt than a solution,” said Jackie Schutz, a Scott spokeswoman.

“We wish Congressman Murphy would spend more time in Washington getting Congress and the President to approve funding to repair the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike which has caused the algae problem in the Treasure Coast.”

Murphy on Tuesday said that Scott should urge lawmakers to use voter-approved Amendment 1 environmental dollars to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee that can be used to clean and store the discharged lake water.

Republican lawmakers have rejected both the price and science behind the proposal.

“This isn’t a problem you should be pointing fingers and blaming folks,” Murphy said. “This is well beyond that. My constituents don’t care whose fault this is, they want it solved.”

Murphy’s appearance at the Capitol was the latest dust-up between the Democratic Senate candidate and Republican governor over algae.

Last week, the governor’s office served up email sent by a Murphy aide seeking to delay the announcement by the Small Business Administration of a federal aide program for companies and services hurt by the algae outbreak.

Murphy wanted to attend a news conference unveiling the program and had a conflict on the day scheduled. Once the email was forwarded to Scott by the SBA, the governor’s office became outraged, saying it was important to hold the announcement as soon as possible, warning that a day’s delay jeopardized help for businesses.

The America Rising PAC, which does opposition research on Democratic candidates, soon was handing out details of the clash to reporters.

Scott says mega-building is generating dollars that help Florida fight environmental problems

Gov. Scott says mega-developments are helping state pay for environmental problems
Gov. Scott says mega-developments are helping state pay for environmental problems

Florida’s building boom, which followed Gov. Rick Scott’s rollback of growth management laws, is alarming many community activists and environmentalists.

But Scott sees the spread of mega-developments, from the Panhandle to the heart of panther habitat in Southwest Florida, as helping the state pay for widespread environmental problems facing the state.

The Indian River Lagoon on the state’s Atlantic shore and Caloosahatchee River on the Gulf of Mexico side have been badly fouled by freshwater runoff from Lake Okeechobee, carrying pollutants from neighborhoods, farms and cities.

At the same time, freshwater springs, concentrated mostly in Central and North Florida, have proved particularly vulnerable to pollutants from nearby development. Such landmark sites as Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs and Fanning Springs are choked by nutrients and algae.

Scott, though, said his administration has steered $880 million toward advancing long-stalled Everglades’ projects while backing major efforts for cleaning the Indian River Lagoon and endangered springs.

These initiatives would not be possible without the dollars provided by the building projects that are flourishing in Florida, he said.

“All that’s happened,” Scott said, “because we’ve turned around our economy.”

Palm Beach County’s unincorporated western area is the site of almost 14,000 new homes planned in coming years, spread across four new communities, including Westlake, whose developers want to make it the county’s 39th city.

On what had been timber and farm land in Charlotte County on the Gulf coast, a city whose acreage is bigger than Manhattan is beginning to emerge. In Orange County, 4,000 homes are on their way east of the Econlockhatchee River, long a dividing line between urban and rural Central Florida. Prime Florida panther habitat is targeted for development in eastern Collier County, just southeast of Palm Beach County.

What’s happened in Florida since growth oversight has been reduced?

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