Jeb Bush borrows money to accelerate Everglades plan

President Bush has made much of his devotion to wetlands, even vowing during the second debate to “increase the wetlands by 3 million.” Three whole million! But the nation’s biggest environmental initiative — signed into law in 2000 and aimed at restoring Florida’s most beloved wetlands, the Everglades — is moving at a snail’s pace, say critics. In an election year, that won’t do, so brother Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, is stepping in for an assist: Yesterday, flanked by high-ranking (George) Bush administration officials, he announced a plan to borrow money — something he had previously opposed — to pour $1.5 billion of state funds into a plan called “Acceler8,” which will jumpstart the lagging program to restore the Florida Everglades. The program is hugely popular in Florida, a swing state that (George) Bush won by a razor-thin margin in 2000. Enviro groups begrudgingly welcomed the plan, though they expressed reservations that it was developed behind closed doors and left open the possibility that the state could weaken important regulations. Still, said April Gromnicki of Audubon of Florida, “These are a lot of the things that the environmental community has been asking for.”

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