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Positions of Florida candidates for statewide office on environmental and water issues

Posted at 1:45 PM, Oct 24, 2018

Toxic algae and red tide have seeped into Florida politics. The environmental crisis is a key issue this election season. Here's a look at the candidates' positions.

In the District 18 congressional race covering Martin, St. Lucie and part of Palm Beach County, 
Republican incumbent Brian Mast and Democratic challenger Lauren Baer know that lessening or eliminating algae blooms must be a priority.

Mast notes that he helped push Congress to authorize and fund a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee with the hope of lessening discharges into local waterways someday.  

And he authored legislation forcing the army corps to at least reevaluate its discharge schedule for the big lake.

"Recently the Senate passed the bill after the House passed the bill. I have nine different bills rolled on the one piece of legislation," Mast said.

But Baer said Mast has been too late to propose solutions for environmental problems and criticizes his bills for not fully addressing those problems.

"What he has done doesn't address the underlying problem here which is polluters are dumping nutrients into the lake and that's causing the algae blooms" Baer said.

Baer says if elected she will push for hard limits on the amount of nitrogen phosphates that can go into the lake and promises to push for stronger environmental protections.

Red tide and toxic algae could help swing Florida's Senate race. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and Republican Governor Rick Scott each blame one another for the blooms plaguing our state.

The governor argues he has signed legislation to expedite the reservoir and declared a state of emergency in communities impacted by the issues.  Nelson blames Scott for slashing funding for environmental agencies, saying that neglect has led to more polluted waters.

And in the race for Florida's governor, here, in part, is what Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum are saying.

DeSantis vows to push for a study on red tide, focus more effort on restoring the everglades and halting discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

Gillum has called climate change an "urgent threat and blames it for worsening algae blooms and red tide. He promises to increase environmental funding, beef up agencies Gov. Scott cut, and strengthen environmental regulations.