Florida Governor Scott Wants Supreme Court To Weigh In On Water Fight

SCOTT WANTS SCOTUS TO WEIGH IN ON WATER FIGHT: In the latest skirmish in a 20-year tri-state water war, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to limit how much of the precious resource Georgia can siphon out of the Apalachicola River. Scott accused Georgians, particularly residents of metropolitan Atlanta, of taking far more than their share of the river's water, which he said has devastated downstream Florida oyster fields and caused significant financial damage to the Sunshine State's oyster industry. The announcement came one day after federal officials declared Apalachicola's oyster industry to be a disaster.

Scott also accused Georgia officials of not acting in good faith, calling legal action "our only way forward after 20 years of failed negotiations" with the Peach State.

That drew a sharp rebuke from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R).

"Gov. Scott's threat to sue my state in the U.S. Supreme Court greatly disappoints me after I negotiated in good faith for two years," Deal said. "More than a year ago, I offered a framework for a comprehensive agreement. Florida never responded. It's absurd to waste taxpayers' money and prolong this process with a court battle when I've proposed a workable solution."

He also questioned the timing of the suit, intimating that his GOP colleague was playing politics in the face of what most expect to be a very tough re-election campaign next year.

"While the timing seems to work for political purposes, it's ironic this comes at a time when Florida and Georgia are experiencing historically high rainfall," Deal said in a statement. "The fastest and best resolution is an agreement, not a lawsuit going into an election year."

Katherine Zitsch, manager of natural resources division at the Atlanta Regional Commission, also disputed Scott's claim that the city is the primary culprit behind Florida's oyster troubles.

"Metro Atlanta has one of the most aggressive water conservation programs in the country," she said.

While the region has seen tremendous rainfall this year, it has also suffered through periodic extended droughts, which Zitsch says has a far greater negative impact on Florida's oyster industry than water siphoning from Georgia.

Florida, Georgia and Alabama have been battling over water allocations for decades. Scott said Alabama officials have not decided they will join the suit. (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, ORLANDO SENTINEL, TAMPA BAY TIMES)

GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: In CALIFORNIA, Gov. Brown released a draft amendment for overhauling the voter-approved Proposition 65, which regulates toxic chemicals found in the workplace and requires businesses to post signs warning consumers of their presence. Opponents contend that the law exposes too many small business owners to frivolous lawsuits (THE RECORD [LEXIS NEXIS]).

— Compiled by RICH EHISEN

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