Politicians love conversing about the setting. It is a well-known subject matter on which it’s simple to discuss the chat — but several elected leaders observe as a result of by going for walks the stroll.
One particular of those people unusual number of is Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is currently the strongest environmental advocate on the Florida Cabinet. Right before Commissioner Fried was elected to her statewide placement, the expression ‘climate change’ was seldom uttered by Florida leadership.
In Fried’s just about 3 a long time in office environment, she has made a much extra valiant hard work on the ecosystem, strength, local weather adjust, and water than any of her predecessors.
In Novemeber, Fried termed on condition and federal regulators to deny an oil drilling allow in the Major Cypress watershed that would threaten Southwest Florida’s water source. Subsequent that contact, Florida’s Office of Environmental Protection (DEP) was compelled to deny the permit, a important acquire for the setting.
Fried recently introduced her Clean up Drinking water Initiative which — for the to start with time ever – will accumulate data of vitamins utilized on farms and will prioritize in-individual verification farm web site visits rather of relying on voluntary self-reporting, as nicely as collaborate with farmers on corrective action and refer non-compliance for enforcement. In fact, she’s previously referred to DEP far more than 6,000 farms for skirting environmental practices.
She’s updating agricultural best management methods that hadn’t viewed important advancements in years, increasing water excellent, power effectiveness, and pollution reduction techniques. She’s prioritized putting tens of millions in price-share pounds to the most effective environmentally impactful projects. And she’s questioned point out lawmakers for supplemental means to reinforce agricultural water conservation.
At a Cabinet conference this 12 months, Fried grilled the previous DEP Secretary about the catastrophe at Piney Level, citing dozens of documented issues considering the fact that 2019 by itself, such as critical failures, tension fractures, and leaks foremost to 250 million gallons of contaminated wastewater unveiled into Tampa Bay.
On the Cabinet, Fried was the only vote versus providing TECO new fossil gasoline electric power plant potential and growing the Dolphin Expressway by means of the Everglades, and her company strongly proposed against expanding Miami-Dade city growth into nearby wetlands.
She’s identified as for banning all oil drilling within just Florida, termed out strategies to deep properly inject poisonous phosphate mining squander into our aquifers, and called out Mosaic’s attempt to develop their New Wales phosphogypsum plant in Polk County and open a new phosphate mine in DeSoto County. Not content material as only the opposition, Fried has proposed severe, tangible environmental alternatives. She has spearheaded hundreds of thousands in grants for very low-cash flow and nearby governing administration electricity efficiency updates, and released Florida’s initially-at any time statewide research of strength inequity, operating to aid Black and Hispanic households burdened with bigger utility bills than other Floridians. She’s voted for hundreds of millions of dollars for land conservation to guard ecosystems, and introduced the state’s to start with electric auto roadmap to guide the continued development of EVs in Florida.
Fried hasn’t been shy about building tough phone calls, possibly. Earlier this calendar year, she denied condition approval for aldicarb, one particular of the world’s most perilous chemicals. A pesticide so toxic it was banned by more than 100 nations, Fried turned down it for Florida after Donald Trump’s EPA in its last times quietly accepted its use on citrus, the place it’s posed a large possibility to infants and little ones.
In September, Fried boldly introduced she experienced started the approach of phasing out polystyrene food stuff packaging at 40,000 grocery suppliers, foodstuff markets, and benefit stores across Florida. Using hundreds of yrs to biodegrade, packaging like Styrofoam is a person of the worst contributors to landfill squander and marine life death.
In November in Orlando, Fried hosted the Florida Strength and Local weather Summit, her department’s biennial meeting addressing h2o, strength, and climate troubles. Her summit yielded important discussions on local weather resiliency, solar power and biofuels, and innovative systems toward a zero-carbon long term. In the impending legislative session, she will assistance bold local weather and strength laws to make these discussions a reality, as she’s accomplished each calendar year in office environment.
It is effortless for politicians to converse the communicate on the ecosystem. But walking the wander requires tricky decisions and daring action – and which is specifically what Nikki Fried has completed at the helm of Florida’s second-biggest market. I hope that all of Florida’s elected leaders will comply with her science-based mostly excellent illustration.
Janelle Christensen, M.A., M.P.H., Ph.D., is Earlier President of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida and a Fort Myers resident.