Governor May Back Away From Supporting Weakened Environmental Regulations in Panhandle

Gov. Jeb Bush is having second thoughts about a bill that would exempt much of northwest Florida from the state’s wetland preservation law.

The bill approved during the 2005 legislative session leaves water and wetland issues up to individual counties, but the Panhandle is in the midst of a development boom.

Bush says they need to make sure the mistakes that happened in other parts of the state are not repeated.

“I’ve just got some concerns. This is an incredibly beautiful part of the state and I want to make sure as it grows that we don’t damage the natural surroundings."

He went on to say, "The reason why northwest Florida is booming is that it is incredibly beautiful, and people like to live in these pristine settings and we can over time we can cook the goose that lays the golden egg if we don’t watch it."

The Saint Joe Company, Florida’s largest landowner, is planning a series of massive developments in northwest Florida. Environmentalists are concerned that the wetlands exemption approved by lawmakers would make it all but impossible to control that growth.