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Florida Environmental Groups Urge Veto of Bill That Would Override Community Decisions on Shipping and Cruise Ship Pollution

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL – 23 organizations signed on to a letter urging Governor DeSantis to veto legislation that would create preemptions for home rule over seaports.

Ocean Conservancy and a group of 22 other organizations today urged Governor DeSantis to exercise his veto authority on a key home rule issue when it is sent to his desk. The existing legislation is written so broadly that it would prevent local governments and port authorities from establishing regulations that would restrict emissions from the shipping and cruise line industries in their home waterways.

In a letter to the governor, the organizations highlight the damage that this legislation could have on the Florida Coral Reef Tract and other Floridian ecosystems by potentially kneecapping future efforts to combat against climate change. Shipping emissions, if left unchecked, will account for nearly 17% of total greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The letter also underscores the danger of overriding the home rule powers of local governments, and argues that local governments and port authorities should be allowed to retain the power to regulate vessels that might have deleterious impact on local ecosystems.

“Florida’s ocean and coastal assets are a key economic driver for the state, as well as the foundation of the state’s cultural identity,” said Jon Paul “J.P.” Brooker, Director of Florida Conservation at Ocean Conservancy. “Port authorities and local governments know their local waterways best. Allowing local governments to tailor regulations that can reduce shipping emissions is critical in a state like Florida that is facing down the effects of climate change on a near daily basis.”

“Our fishing guides consider the impacts of large cruise ships to be nothing short of a man-made water quality disaster,” said Capt. Will Benson of the Lower Keys Guides Association. “Over the past 20 years we’ve seen firsthand what happens when cruise ships that are too large traverse our reef and disturb the coral, sea grass, and hard bottom habitats — causing death and destruction and ultimately a decline in the fishery on which we depend. The disaster however can be reversed by upholding home rule and showing strong leadership to veto SB426/HB267 and allowing the fishery to heal itself after years of destruction. Indeed, we witnessed this healing process at work throughout the past year, when large cruise ships were absent from the waters surrounding Key West.”

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Jon Paul “J.P.” Brooker is available for interviews upon request. 

NOTES TO EDITOR

  • A copy of the letter is available HERE.
  • The letter was signed by many of Florida’s leading environmental organizations, including:
    • Ocean Conservancy
    • 1000 Friends of Florida
    • Florida Wildlife Federation
    • Sea Turtle Conservancy
    • Surfrider Foundation
    • Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships
    • Lower Keys Guides Association
    • Waterkeepers Florida
    • Dade Heritage Trust
    • Dream In Green
    • Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life
    • The CLEO Institute
    • Friends of the Everglades
    • National Parks Conservation Association
    • Collier County Waterkeeper
    • VolunteerCleanup.Org
    • Healthy Gulf
    • Florida Conservation Voters
    • Suncoast Waterkeeper
    • Miami Waterkeeper
    • Tampa Bay Waterkeeper
    • Shark Team One
    • Tropical Audubon Society

Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. 

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