–By Richard Leonard. Communications Committee


Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.

They paved paradise

 And put up a parking lot.


  • Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi. 1970


When President Trump vowed during his campaign to “Drain the swamp,” we didn’t think he meant Florida’s precious wetlands, a critical part of our ecological system.

With the nation’s attention focused on the Senate impeachment trial, the Trump Administration last week announced that it would eliminate decades-old protections under the Clean Water Act, exposing 51 percent of the nation’s wetlands to development and pollution.

The president’s reckless actions should be of great concern to Floridians because six million acres, or one half, of wetlands in the state are now threatened. Only Alaska has more wetlands impacted by the rollback, which will begin in March.

Property developers, however, are certain to take direct aim on Florida because of population growth, which would have to be supported by more roads, housing, shopping centers, restaurants and more.

Furthermore, developers can dump pollutants into waterways as they fill in critical wetlands for construction projects, putting our drinking water at risk of contamination.

Tim Moran, an editorial board member at the Star Ledger in New Jersey, penned an outstanding opinion piece that slammed the regulation rollback and cited its deleterious impact on locations across the U.S.

“President Trump just gave final approval to a new rule that will strip federal protections for roughly half of the nation’s wetlands, and permit dumping of chemical waste directly into thousands of waterways that have, until now, been protected. This is not environmental policy; it is vandalism. It is based not on science, but on a blind hostility to sensible regulation.”

Link: Like spitting in the swimming pool | Moran

Environmental protection is an anathema to the Trump Administration, which obviously prefers property developers and bulldozers to wetlands and clean drinking water.

The projections on wetlands no longer under federal regulations were provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, just one of the many agencies and departments gutted by Trump. He must be so proud.

All it took was a new, more restrictive definition of wetlands by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to set this environmental travesty in motion. Going forward, only wetlands that will be federally protected are those immediately adjacent to a major body of water, or ones that are connected to such a waterway by surface water.

Losing federal protection for half of them “could alter the Florida landscape pretty significantly,” said Jan Goldman-Carter, senior manager for wetlands at the National Wildlife Federation. “There will be a significant impact on water quality as a result.” She was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times.

President Trump probably never listened to Joni Mitchell. He never listens to anyone except those who plot to trash everything we cherish.

Related developments:

  • For more information on the impact of Trump’s new wetlands policy, visit Trump wetlands rule rollback makes about 6 million acres in Florida unprotected
  • In reaction to the rules change, the League of Conservation Voters issued a statement and plea for support that reads in part: “Environmental groups and state attorneys general are organizing legal challenges. We’re mobilizing to flood House and Senate offices with letters. We’re organizing activists in key states. This could be one of the most important environmental fights of 2020…..”
  • We know we can’t count on our Republican senators to directly confront their hero, President Trump. They did, however, at least propose something for the environment. On his official website, Rubio said: “I am proud to join Senator Rick Scott and Congressman Michael Waltz in introducing the Clean Water Allotment Modernization Act. This legislation would nearly triple Florida’s current Clean Water State Revolving Fund allotment each year, enabling more than $730 million in new funds per decade for clean water infrastructure. Protecting and restoring water quality in Florida’s aquifers, wetlands, and coastal waters is an economic imperative, and this needed reform will help deliver critical environmental benefits for current and future generations of Floridians to enjoy.”
  • Legislation is introduced all the time by congressmen seeking a good headline. Rarely, however, does a proposed bill make its way through the committee process, win approval by both houses of Congress and, finally, is signed by the president’s signature. Furthermore, the Rubio did not explain how this proposal squares with the Trump administration’s actions to open wetlands to developers and polluters.