At an official campaign stop in Florida, Presidential hopeful Barack Obama vowed to help protect Florida’s Apalachicola Bay and the water resources of the Panhandle. The comment has the Senators of Georgia fuming, as Florida, Georgia and Alabama all position themselves for the limited water resources in the region.
“As president, I will make protecting Florida’s water resources a priority,” Obama told the press. “Instead of endless lawyering and litigation over the Apalachicola, the Panhandle region needs new national leadership — that’s why I’ll ask the National Research Council to assess the water supply and recommend the best way to fairly allocate those scarce resources.”
The statement was immediately challenged in an open letter to Obama from Republican Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
“To state that you will make protecting Florida’s water resources a priority over Georgia’s shows that you do not care about the needs of the people of Georgia,” the Senators wrote. “While we appreciate your recent and sudden interest in the tri-state water issues we have been working on for the past six years, the comments by you and your campaign reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of the problems in the…basins.”
The Obama campaign responded, saying that while the campaign advocates for the protection of Florida’s waters, it won’t put the needs of one state over another.
Meanwhile, Florida residents in Franklin County were preparing for a townhall meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss water resource management. According to Tallahassee’s local WCTV, residents in the Panhandle fear that their water woes will fall on deaf ears.
“I’m afraid that if Florida doesn’t stand up for their rights, that they’ll be pushed aside because Georgia has the water first and if we don’t stand up and fight for our rights, then certainly, we will be overlooked,” resident Rex Phipps told the news station.
Find a copy of Senators Isakson and Chambliss’ statement here
Circle of Blue’s east coast correspondent based in New York. He specializes on water conflict and the water-food-energy nexus. He previously worked as a political risk analyst covering equatorial Africa’s energy sector, and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. Contact: Cody.Pope@circleofblue.org