By Bill Yeargin
Labor Day afternoon I received an email from the White House inviting me to join President Trump and other leaders the next day for an event regarding Florida’s environment. Florida’s environment has always been important to me and the event was at one of our state’s most special sites, the Jupiter Lighthouse, so I quickly accepted.
During the meeting President Trump, joined by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, touted his signing of the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act which was a key priority of the marine industry.
The Act not only significantly increased funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but also committed nearly $10 billion dollars over the next five years to complete much needed deferred maintenance at our national parks. The Act is good for our environment, our state, our industry, and all Americans.
The big news from the event, however, was the President signing a new moratorium on oil drilling off Florida’s coast, something most of us Floridians support.
Protecting our environment is not only the right thing to do for our planet Earth, it is also good for both our economy and business community.
I have visited many countries around the globe where boating is not an option because no one would dare get in the water, it is so polluted.
Beyond hampering boating, a dirty environment creates additional strains on a country’s economy as it tries to simultaneously provide clean air and water for its people while also absorbing the health care costs of those already sick because of pollution.
Additionally, in states like Florida, a huge part of the economy is driven from tourism which is highly dependent on clean water and air. The investment we make in a clean environment is tiny compared to what we would lose if tourists stopped coming to Florida. Regardless of the state, it is less expensive to invest in keeping the environment clean than it is to pay the huge costs over time of not being good stewards.
I generally have an anti-regulation bias, but responsible environmental regulation has had a huge positive impact on the environment in the U.S. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s air in many U.S. cities was polluted and when a river caught on fire in Cleveland it served as the catalyst for President Nixon and a bipartisan Congress to step up its focus on protecting our country’s natural resources. Since then the results have been clear; we have cleaner air and water that lead to more boatable lakes and rivers.
I appreciate the steps the President took by signing both the Great American Outdoors Act and the moratorium on oil drilling off Florida’s coast, however, there is more to do. The marine industry should stand shoulder to shoulder to do all we can to preserve our environment. Our businesses, the health of our families and our country all benefit when we do.