Castor: Trump’s Budget Threatens Florida’s Environment, Economy
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor joined elected officials and environmental activists to oppose elimination of the Tampa Bay Estuary program, clean water, clean air and NOAA coastal resource initiatives under the proposed federal budget.
TAMPA – U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, elected officials, activists and experts stood together on the shore of Tampa Bay on the seven-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, to speak out in strong opposition to President Donald Trump’s elimination of the Tampa Bay Estuary program, clean water, clean air and NOAA coastal resource initiatives under his proposed budget.
They warned that slashing clean water protection would undercut the progress that the city of Tampa and other communities have made over decades in cleaning up Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Trump’s proposed budget contains 31 percent cuts to clean water, clean air and coastal research under the Environmental Protection Agency and NOAA, which send support back to state and local communities.
Since its unveiling, Castor has been outspoken about Trump’s proposed budget and its threats to Florida’s economy and jobs. Trump’s budget, she said, will force the EPA to abandon its commitment to public health and environmental protection, and instead supposedly shift regulatory duties to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, a state agency that has been gutted by more than 600 employees under Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Castor serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the top environmental committees in the Congress, with jurisdiction over EPA, the Department of Energy and NOAA.
“President Trump’s budget cuts will be devastating to Florida’s environment and economy. We intend to fight to protect what makes Florida special and drives our economy: clean and healthy beaches and a beautiful Tampa Bay,” Castor said. “Tampa Bay water quality has improved greatly thanks to the National Estuary Program and efforts to recover bay seagrasses and end harmful pollutant runoff. Our neighbors and tourists love to go fishing and sailing on Tampa Bay, but that’s at risk under Trump.”
Among those joining Castor on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill were Tampa Council members Harry Cohen and Guido Maniscalco, St. Petersburg Council member Steve Kornell, USF College of Marine Science Professor David Hollander, Florida Sierra Club Director Frank Jackalone, Environment Florida State Director Jennifer Rubiello and Tampa Audubon Society Coordinator Doug DeNeve. The BP Deepwater Horizon blowout on April 20, 2010, took a massive toll on the Gulf Coast’s environment, wildlife and communities. For three months after the initial explosion, millions of gallons of crude oil and thousands of tons of methane spewed from the sea floor. Eleven people were killed and dozens more injured.
Both Tampa and St. Petersburg have struggled in recent years to address stormwater and sewage backups caused by heavy rains, members of both city councils – Cohen and Maniscalco of Tampa, and Kornell of St. Petersburg – argued that local efforts not be undermined by Trump’s proposed cuts. In addition, Maniscalco, who serves on the Tampa Bay Estuary Policy Board, and Kornell, who served on the board for seven years, said the TBEP brings together policymakers, scientists as well as the business community on ways to preserve and improve the environment and maintain the economy.
“The Tampa Bay Estuary Policy Board is a success on every level. The business community has been at the table … In an era that is so divided, this program has brought so many people together and cutting it should never be considered,” Kornell said.
Jennifer Rubiello, Environment Florida state director, issued the following statement:
“Today’s seven-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster is a solemn reminder of the threats offshore drilling poses not only to our coastal communities, but also to the quality of our water. Clean water is vital to our ecology, our health, and our quality of life. Here in Tampa Bay, we depend on our rivers and streams for fishing, swimming, and boating. Unfortunately, President Trump’s proposed budget is dirty, dangerous and fails to protect our waters.
“Slashing the Environmental Protection Agency’s overall budget by almost a third, for example, means the agency cannot adequately enforce our bedrock environmental laws like the Clean Water Act. The proposed cuts would lay off thousands of workers and reduce the enforcement division, which includes the very people tasked with ensuring that states comply with laws like the Clean Water Act that protect our drinking water. These workers are the ones that step in when the state refuses to comply.
“The budget fails to address the Flint water crisis and dozens of other lead in drinking water disasters and also cuts funding for Everglades restoration. As we’ve seen over the last few years, Everglades restoration is key to keeping Florida’s waters and beaches clean and thriving for generations to come.
“We’re grateful for the leadership of Congresswoman Castor who is standing up for Florida’s environment. We call on the rest of Florida’s congressional delegation to reject the administration’s cuts. America’s water, our air and our health come in dead last in this so-called “America First” budget. It’s not the future our families or the planet deserve.”
Dr. David Hollander, professor of Chemical Oceanography and the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, called for members of Congress and the White House to stop rejecting science: “I hope, through U.S. Rep. Castor’s work, science can gain a better foothold [in Congress] and help in making better informed policy decisions.”
Castor represents Florida’s 14th Congressional District, which covers a portion of Hillsborough County.
For information about Castor, go to castor.house.gov.
Photo by Marcia Mejia, Office of U.S. Representative Kathy Castor.
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