Environmental groups blast permitting bill

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Environmental groups laced into a House measure (HB 991) that would overhaul dozens of state environmental standards in an effort to streamline environmental standards. ” It is a monster bill that threatens the health and safety of the citizens of Florida,” said Eric Draper, director of Audubon Florida, at a press conference on the measure held by a half-dozen environmental and conservation groups. The measure, by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, is expected to be taken up by the House on Friday. It aims to streamline the state’s permitting process by shifting the burden of proof in some cases and limiting local environmental regulation in some areas. Supporters said the bill could particularly and unnecessarily help mining companies. “Florida is not facing a crushing need for crushed rock,” said Dave Cullen of Sierra Club Florida. The bill’s Senate companion (SB 1404) never got out of committee, but opponents are worried it could be amended onto another bill. Supporters say the measure is needed to reduce barriers for development.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.