By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
August 14, 2018
Pixabay / MGN
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- More than two million pounds of dead and rotting fish have already been removed from Florida beaches.
On Monday, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for seven counties affected by red tide.
The declaration allows local governments to access additional funds to aid clean up efforts. A half-million dollars will go to Visit Florida to help local businesses.
“There's some money in there to help communities essentially deal with the mass of dead fish and dead organisms,” said Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters.
But, Moncrief says the order doesn’t do anything to prevent future outbreaks.
“It doesn't go to the root of the problem, which is pollution in our waterways fueling these ever virulent algal blooms,” said Moncrief.
Scott and his opponent in the race for the U.S. Senate, Bill Nelson, have blamed one another for the environmental disaster.
While Nelson and Scott continue to point the finger at one another, environmentalists say Scott’s cuts to water management districts outweigh any actions by Nelson.
Scott touted the cuts as a success in 2011.
“I took action on the proposed budgets of Florida's five water management districts. All together these budgets reflect a reduction of more than $700 million dollars over last year,” Scott said in his weekly video update from August of that year.
“$700 million,” said Moncrief. "Those are the agencies that are responsible for making sure that pollution is under control.”
When asked about the cuts Tuesday, Scott pointed the finger at the water managers.
“The water management districts decide their budgets,” said Scott.
However, the governor appoints water managers and has final approval over their budget.
Scott says his efforts to expedite repairs to the Lake Okeechobee dike will help prevent future blooms by allowing water levels to be raised and reducing discharges. Environmental groups warn raising water levels could kill the ecosystem in the lake.