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All-star panel discusses Everglades restoration

Gov. Rick Scott defended his environmental policy and discussed his views on water conservation with an all-star panel of legislators and environmentalists at Tuesday afternoon's Everglades Water Supply Summit.

Other panelists included Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, former golf pro Jack Nicklaus and artist Guy Harvey.

The talk was moderated by NBC's Chuck Todd.

Immediately, Todd honed in on Scott's "change of heart" from last year, when he was criticized for his cuts to Everglades spending. This year, Scott has proposed $40 million for the Everglades.

"My job is allocate the money as well as I can. The Everglades are important," he said. "Whether the number is $40 million, which is in this budget, or $200 million, you have to spend it right."

He added that Everglades restoration is good for business and for real-estate values.

Later, the panel had friendly face-offs on development and agricultural and water policy.

Scott said there's still plenty of room for development in Florida that can be done with minimal environmental impact.

He sees plenty of open space as he flies over the state, he said.

"But nobody wants to live in those places," Todd countered, drawing laughs from the crowd.

The group also discussed a possible water bill that would transfer control of the state's treated waste water from the state-run water management districts to local governments and utility companies.

Scott wouldn't comment on the bill, citing the need for more research.

But Putnam called water conservation the "single biggest long-term issue affecting our state."

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