This Earth Day President Barrack Obama is focusing on policy related to the Florida Everglades. President Bill Clinton first pushed for, and Congress enacted, the Everglades Restoration through Water Resources and Development Act in 2000. At that time, Clinton had expressed his fondness for the Everglades while noting the important role climate change will play in the coming generation’s policy. Obama is visiting Homestead, Florida today, in a somewhat controversial visit to the politically Republican dominated state, where he will be able to advocate for his stance on carbon admissions.
Climate Change continues to be debated by politicians as to whether it even exists. In response to this notion, Floridians might note that the water level in their state, including in the Everglades, is increasing ten times fast that it has in the past. Globally, this impact is being felt as well. Since accurate global temperatures have been recorded on earth, nine of the hottest years have been recorded within the past ten years. Greenland, according to NASA research, experienced a double in their ice reduction between 1996 and 2000, the annual equivalence of 150 billion metric tons of ice depleted.
The Restorative Project in the Everglades began with a budget of $8 billion in 2000 and has increased to $10.56 billion today, according to the National Park Service. This funding is spit fifty-fifty between state spending and federal spending. This is a huge project that has been discussed in Florida for years. It consists of diverting freshwater from rivers and reservoirs that collect runoff water, to this area in an effort to offset the rising seawater levels that threaten the freshwater wildlife that the Everglades are known for and local inhabitants depend on for food and tourism.
By Obama focusing on the everglades this Earth Day he is doing two things. He is addressing the important issue of water supply in the nation right now. With rising temperatures and seawater levels states like California are also being challenged to come up with solutions for the detrimental effects this warming tend is creating.
However, Obama is also visiting a state that may prove to be one of the most important states in the coming election. Obama’s policy is of concern to local Republican presidential candidates such former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. They may be two who would like to see this policy be pushed back. This concern might not only be related to carbon policy though, there is some concerns about the diversion of so much water from its natural path.
Today is Earth Day and a major issue being addressed by Obama is the Everglades. This has been a 15-year project that at times brings Republicans and Democrats together. Eric Eikenberg, the Everglades Foundation executive director explains that in the past the Everglades have been a bi-partisan issue that does bring those from the far right and the far left together. He says, “It’s never been partisan, and it shouldn’t be partisan – that’s the beauty of it.”
By Joel Wickwire
Photo by Diana Robinson – Flickr License
Photo by Nathan Forget – Flickr License