The Corner

Politics & Policy

DeSantis Does End Run Around ‘Nature Rights’

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis talks to the media in Miami, Fla., August 29, 2019. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

The Florida Democrat Party has a “nature rights” plank in its platform and the movement was actively trying to bring the rights of nature to the Sunshine State. Given the trends, there was a clear and present danger of enactment.

Thankfully, Governor Ron DeSantis has now signed a law that improves water policy while outlawing local laws that would grant rights to nature. From the NPR story:

The new law, known as the Clean Waterways Act, takes effect July 1 and aims to remedy some of the state’s most egregious water pollution.

It will transfer the state’s septic system oversight from Florida’s Department of Health to its Department of Environmental Protection by 2021. It also creates a wastewater grant program to help the environmental agency fund projects known as Basin Management Action Plans in areas especially vulnerable to nutrient pollution.

“All these changes are a really strong step forward for Florida’s environment,” DeSantis said Tuesday at a press conference in Juno Beach.

The bill also prohibits local governments from granting the environment legal rights, including to plants, wildlife and bodies of water. The move preempts the so-called Rights of Nature movement that in the U.S. and elsewhere has sought or used the maneuver to improve environmental protections for rivers, mountains, forests, glaciers and more.

Another provision, which won’t go into effect until July 2025, prohibits wastewater treatment facilities from dumping untreated sewage into Indian River Lagoon, south of Cocoa Beach, along the Atlantic coast, one of Florida’s hotspots for brown tide.

That’s the way to do it!

This successful thwarting of radical environmentalism follows in the wake of a law passed in Ohio banning nature rights after Toledo voters ludicrously granted “rights” to Lake Erie in a very low-turnout special election.

The federal government and other states should not wait until time grows short, but should similarly prohibit granting human-style rights to animals, geological features, or any non-human aspect of nature. We can protect the environment properly without pretending that rivers and mosquitoes are rights-bearing entities.

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