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So much for Rick Scott’s “7-7-7″ plan to create 700,000 jobs in Florida.

This morning Scott unveiled his proposed budget at a private meeting of activists from the Tea Party. For a man who campaigned on promises to create jobs and cut spending, he seems to have only made good on the “cutting” portion of those promises. His proposed budget will cut spending by $4.6 billion.

His proposal also includes cutting 8700 jobs, but Scott prefers to call that “cutting the size of government” since it’s state positions he would eliminate. Scott’s reasoning is this:

Though cutting those state jobs would add to the state’s unemployment rate, Scott indicated that the best way to grow the state’s economy was through his “jobs budget,” which shrinks state government and cuts property and corporate-income taxes by nearly $1.4 billion.

That explanation also conveniently provides red meat for the Tea Party crowd, and was apparently the reason he chose the private “preaching to the choir” budget presentation that he did:

“As long as 1.1 million Floridians are out of work, we can’t afford a government that runs wild with taxes, regulations and excessive spending,” Scott told the enthusiastic crowd of a 1,000 conservative activists.

“Reviewing a governmental budget is much like going through the attic in an old home. You come across some priceless things you need to protect,” Scott said. “But there are a lot of odd things someone once thought we needed. Much of it we’ve outgrown. And it just doesn’t  fit anymore. Over the last month, I’ve spent a lot of time in that attic. And I’m cleaning it out.”

Most people would value education as one of those “priceless things you need to protect.” Well, not so the Tea Party types who no doubt fit education into the “it doesn’t fit anymore” category if you’ve observed the mindset, behavior and the misspelled rally signs of Tea “Baggers” and the rich corporate leaders who seek to keep them very much uneducated and in the dark. As evidenced when he began touting his “worse than Jeb” ideas on what to do about education in Florida, Scott hinted that he didn’t value education so much either, and he made that quite clear today when he also announced his proposal to cut education. In one of the largest cuts in his budget, Scott wants to eviscerate education by slashing it by $3.3 billion.

Yes, you read that correctly: $3.3 BILLION. The cuts would come from K-12, community colleges and state universities. However, none of the cuts come from charter schools.

Also “cleaned out from Florida’s attic:”

Department of Community Affairs: ($668 million and almost all the employees), Department of Children and Families: ($178.5 million), Justice Administration: ($489 million, plus $39.5 million in cuts to the court system.) Scott also made cuts in Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection, Law Enforcement, Legal Affairs, Juvenile Justice, Transportation, Elder Affairs, and Health among others. A list can be viewed here.

Among things he increased funding for: adding $629 million for the Executive Office Of The Governor.

Looking at Scott’s budget, it’s not too surprising to see that he chose to give the first look to Tea Party activists. Why a private meeting? Well, why not? That’s the way Scott operates. “We the people” don’t matter once the votes are counted. (Although Scott’s working on the problem of “fair elections” too, since he’s quietly trying to get rid of those pesky Amendments 5 & 6 that the voters clearly wanted, and some members of the legislature are helping him out.) But you wouldn’t know that from listening to Scott. His explanation for the private budget presentation was this:  “I do things different. The world does not revolve around Tallahassee…that’s why I’m announcing my budget in the real world.” Ah yes, The “real world.” In Scott’s neighborhood, reality is a gated community of lobbyists and COC members and business leaders where he merely commutes to Tallahassee and his day job: Florida. It’s just a business, as he’s been so quick to point out.

Over the weekend Scott gave another explanation. In his radio address he said this:

“In the days ahead, the special interests and those who support big government solutions will attack my budget. They don’t recognize, as you and I do, these times require a bold new path.”

The “special interests” will attack my budget. Really? Does he mean these special interests? They may want to help him plan his budget, but attack it? Not so much.

Sure, as he says “you and I” recognize these times require a bold path.

Unfortunately the path that the clueless Rick Scott is leading Florida down isn’t just bold.

It’s dangerous.

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From the Exxon Valdez to BP, little has changed in evaluating data on oil spills. A little “political will” as mentioned below would be good right about now.

Just released from The University Of  Florida:

Oil in Gulf of Mexico:  Biologists cite need for critical data to determine ecological consequences

Twenty years after biologists attempted to determine the ecological damages to marine life from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, scientists dealing with the BP disaster find themselves with the same problem: the lack of critical data to determine the ecological consequences of human-induced environmental disasters, a University of Florida researcher said.

Writing in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal Science, Karen A. Bjorndal,  a University of Florida biology professor and director of the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, and other biologists said the United States needs “strategic national research plans for key marine species and ecosystems based on evaluation of cause and effect and on integrated monitoring of abundance and demographic traits.”

“It is sad to see that we are in the same place now,” said Bjorndal, adding that not much has changed since the Valdez oil spill when it comes to getting the data needed to assess and restore a marine ecosystem after an environmental disaster. She hopes it will provide an impetus for action.

“We know how to create these research plans — what is needed now is the political will and leadership to do so,” she wrote.

“Achieving mandated recovery goals depends on understanding both population trends and the demographic processes that drive those trends,” Bjorndal’s article states.

Her team argues it “is not too late to invest funds from BP to support teams of experts to develop effective strategic plans that identify, prioritize and provide methodologies for collecting essential data.”

The team identified seven elements that need to be included in most of the plans.

“In the wake of the BP oil spill, the need for this policy shift is as clear as it is compelling. The largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history should provide the impetus and opportunity to effect this policy shift.” Bjorndal wrote in her article.

Co-authors of the article, called “Better Science Needed for Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico,” are Brian Bowen,  Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii; Milani Chaloupka,  Ecological Modeling  Services, University of Queensland, Australia; Larry B. Crowder,  Center for Marine Conservation, Duke University; Selina S. Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University;  Cynthia M. Jones, Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology, Old Dominion University; Molly E. Lutcavage,  Large Pelagics Research Center, University of Massachusetts; David Policansky, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.;  Andrew R. Solow, Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Blair E. Witherington,  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

 

 

 


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Gov. Rick Scott (shudder) “hit the ground running” as soon as he was sworn in on Tuesday by putting a stop to new regulations in Florida.

One of the first casualties was a proposal for rules on water pollution for mercury contamination in Florida. A public hearing had been scheduled for those rules, but then our new Governor isn’t big on things like “public hearings” so it looks like we’ll just have to eat this one.

From the St. Petersburg Times:

Mercury contamination in fish in Florida waters is a growing problem and the state Department of Environmental Regulation, following federal Clean Water Act rules, was in the process of trying to identify the most contaminated water bodies and come up with a plan to clean up and prevent further pollution.

That process will now be put on hold, said Eric Draper of the Audubon of Florida, after Scott’s order freeze all regulations for 90 days and allow only those approved by his office to move forward.

“Gov. Scott is shutting down our environmental rules,” Draper said. “We know that most of Florida’s water bodies have contamination problems and we need rules to help clean them up. This stops the clean up in its tracks.”

You can browse over what might have been here:

Draft Plan For Development Of A Statewide  Total Maximum Daily Load For Mercury

Between the oil and the Corexit from the BP oil spill, the stalled oil spill payments, and now the mercury problem, I would say the people of Florida came up on the wrong end of the “fish or cut bait” campaign promises from Gov. Scott.

 

 

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Rick Scott is not happy about the offshore oil drilling ban reimposed today by the Obama Administration.

His statement on the ban, and President Obama:

“The Obama Administration’s offshore drilling ban is yet another example of government regulation impeding economic growth.  Florida is committed to pursuing energy independence, which is essential to national security. With sound policies in place, we could expand domestic drilling and eliminate our reliance on foreign oil.   Furthermore, I am disappointed that the White House has chosen to unilaterally impose a policy that threatens job creation and economic growth in Florida without consulting our office.”

Think about that statement for a minute. Just imagine how it would “impede economic growth” in Florida, or any of the other Gulf states if there were any LESS regulations on offshore oil drilling than there are now? Perhaps Scott should ask some of those fishermen who depend on the Gulf for their livelihood. Maybe ask those who own and run businesses like hotels and restaurants along the Gulf coast how they would feel about giving big oil more freedom than they had back in April when that blowout preventer failed to prevent a blowout? Because I did ask some of them back then. They weren’t pleased, to put it mildly. But then Rick Scott isn’t one to talk to the people who live here. He’s more concerned with dealing with big business. Behind closed doors.

He says he’s “disappointed that the White House has chosen to unilaterally impose a policy that threatens job creation and economic growth in Florida without consulting our office.” OK, first of all, Mr. Scott fails to realize, much like he did on the campaign trail, that he was not running for, nor was he elected to the office of Commander-in-Chief. Barack Obama, however, was. Scott may also be surprised to discover that President Obama doesn’t answer to the yet to be sworn in Governor elect Scott.

Second, when Rick Scott professes profound “disappointment” over “job creation [being] threatened,” I suppose he could have a small point there. After the BP oil spill, there was at least one company who discovered newly created jobs, but that was as a result of that oil spill, not the “drilling for” part. That would be this company:

This month the state of Florida awarded WRS a $250,000 contract for “reviewing county responses, designing beach protection devices and identifying areas of ecological concern.”

Kathleen Shanahan, the CEO of the consulting firm WRS Compass, has ties to both Former Vice President Dick Cheney and Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Shanahan was chief of staff for Cheney during the 2000 Presidential campaign and transition. She later became chief of staff for Jeb Bush. In March Shanahan was also re-appointed to Florida’s State Board Of Education by Gov. Charlie Crist.

Talk abut coming full circle. Nice work, if you can get it.

But then if Scott gets his way, there will be a lot more jobs and profits where those came from for his new found friends like Jeb Bush and businesses like WRS Compass.

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As investigations continue into Halliburton’s role in the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico last April, the company is now facing subpoenas from the Environmental Protection Agency over natural gas extraction methods and their potentially adverse effects on drinking water and public health.

The extraction method, called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” would be used to develop shale gas fields in several states, and has already been used in the west. The EPA is seeking information on the chemical ingredients in the fluids used in the extraction process. During the fracking process crews inject vast quantities of water, sand and chemicals underground to force open channels in sand and rock formations so oil and natural gas will flow.

News reports recently claimed the fluids seep into drinking water, and demonstrated how tap water can be literally set on fire from a household faucet. The fracking process is also the subject of the documentary “Gasland.”

From The Los Angeles Times:

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a subpoena to compel Halliburton Co., the nation’s largest oil field services company, to provide complete information on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method the company pioneered to extract natural gas by injecting fluids into tight rock formations deep underground.

Halliburton remained the only company of nine that did not fully comply with a September request to provide the information voluntarily, according to EPA. The others either complied or “made unconditional commitments” to provide the information expeditiously, the EPA said.

“As a result, and as part of the agency’s effort to move forward as quickly as possible, today EPA issued a subpoena to the company requiring submission of the requested information that has yet to be provided,” a statement from the agency said…..

….A Halliburton spokeswoman said the company had already turned over 5,000 pages to the EPA and was “disappointed” with the EPA’s decision, but was working with the agency to narrow the scope of its request….

….Halliburton has attracted ample scrutiny over the years over hydraulic fracturing and contracts in Iraq, particularly during the tenure of Vice President Dick Cheney, who led the company from 1995 to 2000, and had a leading role in formulating the Bush administration’s energy policy.

A Times investigation revealed that as vice president, Cheney’s office helped back hydraulic fracturingas part of the Bush Administration’s energy policy. An EPA report that concluded there was no danger to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing in coal-bed methane deposits in Wyoming was criticized as flawed by agency staffers, prompting an ongoing investigation by the EPA inspector general’s office. The Bush administration worked to keep the practice from being regulated under the federal Clean Water Act.

Read the rest of the story here.

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Today House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bart Stupak released findings on how much BP has spent on advertising since the oil disaster to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) who prompted the probe.

Among the findings:

Between April 2010 and July 2010, BP spent more than $93 million on advertising. That equates to an average of $5 million a week.

That is triple the amount the company spent on advertising during the same time frame in 2009.

Castor’s office sent out the information in a news release:

Upon learning that BP has spent more than $93 million in advertising between April and July, Castor said: “BP’s extensive advertising campaign that is solely focused on polishing its corporate image in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon blowout disaster is making people angry. As small businesses, fishermen, and mom and pop motels, hotels and restaurants struggle to make ends meet, they are bombarded by BP’s corporate marketing largess day after day. BP should be doing more to address the damage to the Gulf Coast tourism industry, fishing industry, and for researchers and for the taxpayers.

“While BP’s advertising campaign ramped up, businesses and the Gulf communities struggled to deal with the costs of the disaster. While BP’s advertising campaign is being executed like clockwork, business and state claims have languished. While BP certainly has the right to advertise, its approach has been insensitive to the taxpayers and business owners harmed by the Deepwater Horizon blowout. BP should use a significant portion of its advertising dollars to ease the strain on Florida small businesses that rely on tourism. Some of the focus should be devoted to marketing and advertising to promote the beautiful, pristine beaches of Florida and give a boost to our struggling tourism economy.”

Castor also referred to Conde Nast, University of Central Florida, U.S. Travel Association and other economic impact studies that have shown the economic impact of the BP oil disaster to tourism and the state’s overall economy is projected to be in the billions of dollars.

The letter to Rep. Castor, below:

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But then did you really think it was “gone” in the first place?

From the St. Petersburg Times:

Far from being gone, the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster appears to still be causing ecological damage in the Gulf of Mexico, according to new findings from University of South Florida scientists.

And scientists from the University of Georgia said the amount of oil that remains in the water could be 70 to 79 percent of the more than 4 million barrels of oil that escaped into the gulf.

….USF marine scientists conducting experiments in an area where they previously found clouds of oil have now discovered what appears to be oil in the sediment of a vital underwater canyon and evidence that the oil has become toxic to critical marine organisms, the college reported Tuesday.

….USF’s scientists also found that the oil droplets were toxic to some phytoplankton, microscopic plants that form the base of the gulf’s food chain, as well as some bacteria. The oil doesn’t accumulate within the plankton, but rather kills it.

….The discovery of oil droplets in DeSoto Canyon spells potential bad news for the areas of Florida’s Gulf Coast that escaped the tar balls and liquid oil that tainted the Panhandle, said USF oceanographer Robert Weisberg. That’s because right now cold water from the deeper part of the gulf is “upwelling” across the continental shelf and headed for coastal areas, Weisberg said.

You can read the full article here.

Meanwhile, most oil spill advisories have been lifted….

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