Group forms to push for environmental protections

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Buoyed by recent comments by Gov. Rick Scott, a new coalition of environmental groups on Tuesday called on lawmakers to restore growth management protections and resist the temptation to further consolidate control over the state’s water resources, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

Speaking to supporters outside the Capitol, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham said the mission of the newly created Florida Conservation Coalition will be to roll back changes made by lawmakers in recent years that critics say have dismantled many of the protections that shielded the state’s natural resources from unmitigated growth.

The group is banking on Scott’s support to influence a Republican-led legislature environmentalists say has rolled back environmental protections, some of which dated back to Graham’s term as governor when the state enacted it first comprehensive growth management law.

“We commend his commitment,” Graham said of Scott’s recent comments on the importance of Florida’s environment. “We now ask for his leadership.”

Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida, said environmental groups were caught off-guard last session by the voracity with which development interests and key lawmakers pursued changes to state laws managing water resources, land conservation and growth.

“Over the last year, under the misleading banner of economic growth, there have been repeated efforts to weaken the environmental laws and cut environmental funds,” Draper said. “There is no correlation

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.