Coral bleaching, like the elkhorn coral in this photo, is a stress response to degradation of water quality. Photo credit: NOAA

For a second year in a row public outcry blocked passage of pro-sewage legislation. Bill 724, filed by Miami Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, died in committee as the 2012 Florida legislative session ended at midnight March 9.

This year’s attempt to roll back compliance deadlines intended to end the discharge of over 300,000,000 gallons a day of inadequately treated sewage dumped into Southeast Florida coastal waters almost made it to the Senate floor for a vote. A companion bill easily passed the Florida House of Representatives without opposition from so-called pro-environmental lobbyists who were caught sleeping on the job.

In February outraged coral reef advocates and conservationists sent a joint letter to the Florida Senate urging representatives to vote against the bill.

At the same time many hundreds of individuals responding to Action Alerts flooded the legislature with emails requesting the rules committee not advance the bill to the Senate floor for final passage.

It worked, for the second time in as many years the attempt to weaken the 2008 Florida Outfall law was blocked.

In the future we need to more carefully scrutinize the allegiance of the Tallahassee lobbyists who should have vociferously opposed this bill, said Ed Tichenor Director of Palm Beach County Reef Rescue. It was not until an article appeared in the Miami Herald that we learned there was no one at bat for us.

Sign on letter to the Florida Senate:

Click here for the Reef Rescue Action Alert

Miami Herald: Efforts by the utilities to water down or delay deadlines in the last few years have stalled in the Legislature. The current proposals, a House version sponsored Reps. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah, and identical Senate bill introduced by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami-Dade  have sailed through committees without opposition or criticism from environmental groups. (Read more.)

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