I am a commercial fisherman advocating a healthy fishery and environment. It seems Congressman Southerland does not share the same goals. His Washington politics are detrimental to our environment, our finfish resources, and the 97.3 percent of the public who don’t fish, but want fresh Gulf seafood in supermarkets and restaurants.
In a previous letter to the editor, I exposed Southerland for being voted “Ocean Enemy #1,” introducing three bills having to do with funeral and burial arrangements (he owns a funeral home in Panama City), introducing two bills that harm bays and estuaries, and another bill that affects the water quality in our waterways.
I did not intend to write another letter to the editor before the Nov. 6 election. I thought surely the negative things Southerland has done to our environment and natural resources would be enough to divulge his reputation, and give voters something to think about. I could not have been more wrong!
Since my expertise is fishing, much of the rest of this letter will be quotes from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Action Fund, whose mission is “to achieve the passage of legislation that jump-starts the clean energy economy, reduces pollution, and sustains vibrant communities for all Americans.”
In a new analysis, the NRDC analyzed all members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ votes, and rated Rep. Steve Southerland a “Dirty Air Villain.” The analysis is based on 13 major clean air votes in the House. Members who voted against clean air at every opportunity are designated “Dirty Air Villains.”
“This analysis shows that far too many members of Congress are neglecting that responsibility in favor of doing the polluters’ bidding,” reads the NRDC report. “These ‘Dirty Air Villains’ should be held accountable for their votes against our health.” No doubt, on Nov. 6, Southerland will be.
“Our analysis reveals the full extent of Big Polluters’ reach into Congress, where some members, especially in the Tea Party-influenced House, do not miss a single opportunity to side with the dirty industry, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves,” reads the report. Southerland, a Tea Party freshman, has done just that.
Southerland was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “One of the things I’ve learned as a freshman, when you’re 50 days before an election, politics takes over.” While he is politicking instead of working for us, maybe the environment can breathe for 50 days.
It is bad enough that Southerland represents a district dependent on a healthy fishery and out of 435 U.S. House Representatives, was voted “Ocean Enemy #1.” It is unbelievable that he sits on the House Natural Resources Committee and does just the opposite of what the committee is charged to do, and through his stance on dangerous air pollution, jeopardizes the health of every man, woman and child in the United States.
Southerland has either voted for or introduced legislation that is harmful to our fisheries natural resources (An appropriations bill rider defunding future catch shares as a valuable commercial fisheries management tool), water (H.R. 3856 which limits the authority of the EPA with respect to the water quality in our waterways); and air. (Rated a “Dirty Air Villain” )
If you want a good man to represent your district for U.S. House of Representatives, who will protect your natural resources, water quality, and clean air; vote for Al Lawson on Nov. 6. He has been a Florida legislator for 28 years. He served as chairman of the Senate Environmental Preservation committee and as chairman of the House Natural Resource committee. He has consistently fought for fishermen, oystermen, water quality, and the environment. When Al Lawson is elected, we can all breathe in a breath of fresh air.
Jim Clements