Is Florida DEP ready?

            With a president bent on cutting Federal spending it is inevitable that the responsibility which had inched its way into D.C. control over the past few years, will begin to return to the State and local level. This is certain to be the case as President Trump works to dissolve the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). For those proponents of less centralized government this could seem like good news, but this may present a problem for States in the years ahead.

            As past trends moved government programs to the Federal level, States began to back down on man power and funding concerning those state specific agencies which had more robust Federal counterparts. We have seen this play out in our very own Department of Environmental Protection which has cut staff and funding steadily over the past several years. Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times reports “the size of the state agency…has shrunk by more than 600 employees, dropping from about 3,500 to 2,900 [since 2011].” Again, these cuts made sense given the trends of the previous administration

          So, provided Trump gets his way and turns the EPA into a Federal ghost; the question of whether a trimmed Florida DEP will be able to handle the full brunt of responsibility remains to be answered. The reality is, the DEP could have more hands full than it has available as Florida faces some of the steepest environmental issues in its history. There’s no question the DEP is barebones, and unconcerned with communicating a clear message to the masses. Just take a gander at their unattractive, migraine inducing website where you’ll find a whole bunch of words that lead to almost nowhere.

          Aside from this, however, confidence in the DEP’s priorities has grown over recent weeks as the agency has directed over $20 million of funding to Brevard County for major restoration projects in and around the Indian River Lagoon system to curb run-off and restore water quality to natural levels. This funding arrives fresh after a horrific season throughout the Lagoon which left behind massive fish and seagrass kills and some of the worst water clarity seen in decades. Still, as we wait and see to what fate the EPA is subject to, it will be worth following the DEP's response as more of the responsibility concerning Florida’s natural resources are laid upon the agency’s shoulders.

          So, what can you do? Well, first, you should follow the DEP by checking their website (Yes I know it’s awful) to see where spending is happening. If you don’t like something that’s going down, let them know. I would also suggest not waiting for the government, whether that’s Federal or State, to solve all of Florida’s problems. It starts with you and what you decide to do to make Florida better. Keep it simple, and recycle plastic, keep a check on the fertilizer you use on your lawn, you know stuff, like that. Oh, and of course, follow The Florida Stories to stay up to date on the latest from the front.  

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