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Coalition: Sunshine State Gets "C" for Coastal Preservation

March 4, 2009

The Florida legislature is just getting going on its new session, but the lawmakers have already got their first report card; they were graded 'C' overall for efforts to reverse the decline of the 8,500 or so miles of coastline and ocean that much of the Florida economy depends on. The Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition issued the report card, commending Governor Charlie Crist and the legislature for battling global warming, restoring the Florida Forever budget, and increasing manatee protection. But they earned low marks for allowing offshore drilling closer to shore, failing to restore marine ecosystems, and not strengthening protection of the ocean.

Joe Murphy, executive director of the Gulf Restoration Network, part of the coalition, says lawmakers need to buckle down.

"When your grade is a 'C' and you're talking about resources that are as important or critical as our coastlines or our oceans, we think Florida can do better."

The report card urges the governor to create a coastal and ocean policy office to oversee efforts to protect these resources. Murphy says protecting Florida’s coastline is the first step in getting the economy back on its feet.

"The way to get our economy going is not to make it easier to pollute or easier to build; the way to get our economy going again is to protect the sustainable economic resources, like Florida's coastline, that really can drive an economy of the future."

Murphy says the recommendations do not involve more spending, but just enforcing laws already on the books and making more efficient use of resources already allocated, including careful consideration of coastal development.

For more information: www.flcoastalandocean.org

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL