Gaetz Calls On State Legislators to Reject Bill Potentially Harmful to the Environment

Gaetz Calls On State Legislators to Reject Bill Potentially Harmful to the Environment

Jackson Bakich
Jackson Bakich
March 1, 2024

Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called on his fellow Floridians in the State Legislature to reject HB 789/SB 738 – legislation that “revises construction relating to causes of action for damages to real or personal property directly resulting from certain discharges or other conditions of pollution.”

Some believe this bill would make it easier for polluters in the Sunshine State to avoid accountability for their actions.

This includes Steve Pedian who expressed his thoughts concerning the bill and its possible consequences.

“While we're battling damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges in FL, Tallahassee's playing games. HB 789/SB 738 was practically dead, but political maneuvers revived it. It just passed the Senate! This toxic bill shields polluters, punishes citizens, and limits liability for spills. Major polluters dodge accountability while threatening our environment & property values. We need vigilance to protect our waters and communities. Tell the Florida House: DON'T HEAR THIS BILL. It's a slap in the face to citizens,” wrote Pedian.

Rep. Gaetz responded to this message by invoking the spirit of the “Florida man,” agreeing with Pedian and calling on Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to veto the bill in the process.

“Florida Man enjoys & needs clean water for swimming, fishing, air boat rides and cabrewing. Polluters should be held accountable - not held harmles or limited in their liability under the laws of the Sunshine State. I spent countless hours campaigning with Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2018. I saw how he promised environmentally-minded voters that he would fight for them - and he has. I urge Governor DeSantis to continue his outstanding environmental record and veto this bill for toxic polluters,” said Rep. Gaetz.

The congressman representing District 1 is certainly not the first U.S. lawmaker to air his grievances concerning pollution and discharges.

In mid-February, Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) demanded answers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) after it announced it would begin discharges to the St. Lucie Estuary from Lake Okeechobee.

Protecting the waterways of Florida – especially Florida’s 21st Congressional District – has been one of Rep. Mast’s main priorities since his election to the House of Representatives.

“My concern stems from the current management of the lake, which has kept Lake Okeechobee artificially high during dry periods to benefit the sugar industry at the expense of all other Floridians,” Rep. Mast wrote in a letter to the Army Corps.

He continued, “During the last dry season, for example, Lake Okeechobee never got below 13 feet, and we are now going to pay the price for this mismanagement in the form of dead seagrasses, killed off oysters, and major threats to public health.

“Without the foresight to see medium to long-term impacts of dry season management, the USACE has put all the surrounding communities and the estuaries at severe risk,” said Mast.

The HB 789 currently stands in messages as of Thursday.

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Jackson Bakich

Jackson Bakich

Born in Orlando but raised in Lake County, Florida, Jackson Bakich is currently a senior at Florida State University. Growing up in the sunshine state, Bakich co-hosted the political talk radio show "Lake County Roundtable" (WLBE) and was a frequent guest for "Lake County Sports Show" (WQBQ). Currently, he is the Sports Editor of the FSView and the co-host of "Tomahawk Talk" (WVFS), a sports talk radio program covering Florida State athletics in Tallahassee.

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