PEER: Florida is Collecting Fewer Pollution Fines Than Ever Before | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

PEER: Florida is Collecting Fewer Pollution Fines Than Ever Before

As he stomps his way around the state hoping to keep his job, Governor Rick Scott has been pushing his "Keep Florida Beautiful" campaign, a likely too-little-too-late bid to appear like a friend to the earth. As we've written before, nothing is further from the truth, with the Scott administration putting up the worst numbers in terms of corrective actions for polluters in some time. Now the same environmental watchdogs have released a new report examining the amount of pollution fines the state collected in 2013. It's not good.

According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the amount of money the state collected in fines last year dropped by more than half from previous year -- capping off a plummet that started the year Scott took office.

The group's report, released yesterday, states the Department of Environmental Protection collected around $688,000 in 2013. The year before, the department collected $1.6 million in fines in 2012. That's a 57 percent drop.

This is all part of a pattern. In 2010, the year before Scott took office, DEP collected a high $7 million from polluters. Each year since the department has taken in less and less money, with large drops between each year: $3 million in 2011; $1.5 million in 2012; and now $688,000 in 2013. The latest amount collected is just 10 percent of the 2010 figure.

Previously, PEER pointed out that DEP has issued a decreasing number of corrective actions under the Scott administration, proof positive, according to the group, that Florida's environmental enforcement has been completely watered down. The latest findings on the state's fine collection seems to confirm that.

"This collections drought means less money for beach and wetlands restorations in places like the Everglades, as well as less for hazardous waste cleanup and pollution abatement," PEER Director Jerry Phillips stated Thursday in a press release. "Fewer collections are also starving the Department of Environmental Protection, as there is less money to fund employees' salaries, which will probably result in more layoffs and turnover in the future if the ship is not righted."