By Karl Deigert, Florida Right to Clean Water
The Florida “Right to Clean and Healthy Waters” citizen ballot petition campaign seeks to amend the state constitution in 2024.
Please Note: This petition is yours. With your signature and vote, you create this Right to Clean Water. This is not about asking politicians to do this for you. You are recapturing your right to self-governance. It’s a gift to yourself, family and Florida.
Florida waters are in a dire state of decline. We need expedient and effective action. There is no time for delay while polluters act with impunity.
We do not have time to hope legislators will stop the degradation. Our legislators and regulators have failed us. Over 9,000 miles of our waterways and 80% of our springs are now classified as “impaired.”
I’m not much for euphemisms. Our waters across the state are “toxic.” Clean and healthy waters produce much of Florida’s allure and economic success. Our economy is at risk – tourism, jobs, real estate values, tax revenue, public services and most importantly, our health.
Polluted waters have harmed my own two water-based businesses. My dreams have been tarnished and lost. We must follow a new path to correct this situation.
That path is the creation of a civil, indefeasible constitutional right to clean waters. This proposal includes all waters of the state and is not limited simply to drinking waters.
Your ballot initiative was drafted and refined over several months, ensuring it meets the rules for state amendments. Furthermore, it was reviewed by many attorneys to ensure that it will survive Florida Supreme Court review once enough petition signatures are collected.
YOUR SIGNATURES ARE NEEDED – 900,000 of them by Feb. 1, 2024.
If voters approve the amendment in November 2024, everyone — including advocacy groups and cities — will have the legal standing to sue state agencies that harm or threaten to harm our waters.
The Home Rule Authority of 412 cities in Florida will be bolstered by this new law. It will supersede many environmental preemptions already in place that prevent towns from protecting their communities.
This restoration of home rule is vital. You don’t need the approval or permission of any politician to make this happen. Your signature and vote create your right to clean water.
You will have the power to enforce your new right. No longer will we stand by and wonder “why don’t they do something?!” Imagine if we had this tool for the past 50 years to oppose state leaders who allow chemical spraying, phosphate mining, unchecked development, agricultural and ranching pollution and the siphoning of our waters by bottling companies to make a profit.
Exercise your right to create this new law.
Find the petition at FloridaRightToCleanWater.org. Sign it, mail it, and share it widely. Our waters, your family and our children’s futures depend on you. Join the effort as a volunteer, donor or business partner.
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Capt. Karl R. Deigert is chairman of the Florida Right to Clean Water constitutional amendment campaign and director of the Florida Rights of Nature Network.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.