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Governor Signs Much Debated Everglades Bill

Gov. Bush signed a bill Tuesday that environmentalists say will destroy a plan to clean up the Everglades. Bush is promising his commitment to full restoration of the ecosystem, and says that environmentalists' concerns will be fixed this week in separate legislation.

Everglades supporters brought a 170-foot long list of names to the governor. They are all people who wanted bush to veto the controversial everglades bill. They were an hour late; Bush signed the measure behind closed doors.

His office released a photo after a public records request. One environmentalist complained that Marjorie Stoneman-Douglas, who began efforts to save the river of grass, would be rolling over in her grave.

"So obviously he never picked up the phone and heard the call of all these folks sending a message that the river of grass was important to them, and now we are just going to continue to have a river of cattails," says Suzie Caplowe.

Bush didn't receive the legislation until Monday night and could have taken at least seven days to review it. While it was signed in private, the governor was out and about, meeting with lawmakers. He told reporters that signing the legislation would not delay the cleanup.

"I'm not ashamed of it, I think that once the concepts are given a fair hearing that people will say that we are on the right track," Gov. Bush says.

The Senate sponsor, Al Lawson, says the signing takes away the threat of lawsuits if the 2006 standard are not met.

"We are not backing off ten parts per billion achievement by 2006, however the science is not there," says Sen. Lawson.

The governor has asked lawmakers to remove questionable language from the law and make cleanup more certain, but he lost all leverage when he signed it with no guarantees of future action.

Bush does not believe that signing the legislation puts the state in violation of the federal consent decree, even though he's been warned by a federal judge that changing the law will never take effect.


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