Dems Enviro Caucus issues 2017 report card for Martin County Commission

Paul Laura is chair of the Treasure Coast Democratic Environmental Caucus.

From Paul Laura, chair of the Treasure Coast Democratic Environmental Caucus: The Treasure Coast Democratic Environmental Caucus has issued a report card for 2017 on environmental actions, , taken by the Martin County Commission.

The grade of each commissioner was determined by their voting record on environmental issues throughout the past year, covering the term from November 2016 through October. Each vote was designated pass or fail depending on agreement with our position.

Eleven agenda items were identified as being particularly important in terms of environmental impacts. A passing grade was 7 out of 11, or approximately 64 percent in line with our position (the equivalent of a “D” grade).

The resulting grades:

— Ed Fielding: A+

— Sarah Heard: A+

— Ed Ciampi (vice chair): F

— Harold Jenkins: F

— Doug Smith (chair): F

An examination of the voting patterns shows a clear divide between three commissioners who are promoting growth (all failed with an F grade) and two commissioners who passed with A+ grades — their perfect scores demonstrating they are taking into account the effect on the environment when growth is accelerated.

Lake Okeechobee discharges are not our only problem to resolve. The St. Lucie River cannot be revitalized without controlling the runoff of nutrients from our own watershed. Just as importantly, we cannot realistically expect others to invest in our clean water if we do not do what we are able to do for ourselves. Our nutrients also sustain algae blooms.

The Democratic Environmental Caucus believes Martin County voters need to look at the candidates running for commissioner and see if they are connected to the building industry. Voters should examine their environmental voting record to see if their words claiming support of our environment are matched by their deeds, as reflected in their past actions.

The voter has the power to decide the future direction of the county. It should be noted the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Council of Martin County and the local Republican Party never initially endorsed our own Senate President Joe Negron’s southern storage solution plan called for in Senate Bill 10.

Nor have the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Council and Republican Party been big supporters of the existing Martin County Comprehensive Plan, which guides local growth, instead promoting or remaining silent on changes which will reduce safeguards to our environment, including the four-story height limit.

These commercial and political entities have offered no initiatives that would improve our ability to protect our environment and manage growth.

Voters must decide in 2018 which path Martin County should take: the course for hyper-growth, without regard for the environment and leading to urban sprawl, or a more sensible growth track which recognizes every new building takes away land available for water to be absorbed and creates more runoff containing additional nutrients.

We live alongside the miracle of multiple estuaries which offer us a “rare enriched marine environment” if we care for it. Residents must ask themselves, “do we want commissioners who will work to restore the St. Lucie River so families in the future can enjoy a quality of life we can only dream of today because of the effects of decades of neglect?”

If yes, we can base our votes on whether a candidate:

— signs the “Now or Neverglades Declaration,” supporting Negron’s plan

— presents a vision of a future where marine life returns to our St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

The choice is ours.

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