To fix Florida’s latest toxic algae crisis, fix the DEP

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“Dear Gov. DeSantis,

I’m writing to you again because you’re facing a great opportunity right now, and I want to be sure you don’t miss out.

Here’s what got my attention: Another top official in your administration resigned. This time, it’s the head of your Department of Environmental Protection, Noah Valenstein, bailing on you just as your re-election campaign is drawing opposition.

Valenstein’s departure comes at a bad time for you. He’s leaving just as your signature environmental initiative — battling toxic blue-green algae blooms — is blowing up in your face.

I quizzed a bunch of environmental activists about what changes they’d make if they ran DEP right now. They all talked about doing a lot more than what was in your ineffective Clean Waterways Act.

The most detailed suggestions came from Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney who now runs the Florida chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. One of them was: End the practice of “administratively continued permits” — in other words, letting polluters keep polluting for years under expired permits, instead of making them reapply and face scrutiny for their poor performance.”

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