New Study Says Environmental Protection on Decline in Florida

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Our first guest is with Florida Peer which has just issued a report saying that “during Governor Rick Scott’s first four years in office, anti-pollution enforcement of all types has nosedived, according to the latest figures compiled by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In 2014, there was a slight increase of activity from the prior year but the overall numbers for cases filed and penalties assessed and collected remain at historically all-time low levels, second only to the complete abdication of enforcement in the previous year.

Scott’s tenure has coincided with a dramatic drop in enforcement for every pollutant type – air, water, waste, etc. – and in every one of the five Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) districts across the state. The rate of decline is particularly steep during the past two years, as evidenced by:

An 85% drop in the number of enforcement cases brought. In 2014, there were a scant 234 enforcement cases opened, whereas in 2010, the year before Scott, there were 1,587;
Of those 234 cases opened in 2014, DEP assessed penalties in only 144 of them – a rate of 62%. Four years earlier, penalties were assessed in 1,318 of 1587 cases opened – a rate of 83%; and
Although there was a miniscule increase in the number of assessments in 2014 from a year earlier, the dollar value of assessments still declined from the disastrous 2013 levels. And in terms of money actually collected, total collections reached an all-time low."

Our guest is Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips director of Florida Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.