ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — One Escambia County resident is taking it upon himself to hold candidates for county and city government accountable when it comes to environmental protection.
John Nixon has been asking all of the candidates running for office in Escambia County, Pensacola and surrounding area to sign an environmental pledge that would build consensus across political boundaries, reduce pollutants, demonstrate good intent from enforcement and collaborate pursuit of dollars, community achievements and advocacy management.
“All we are after is a commitment from the polluters saying, ‘Yeah, we are going to put up silt fences on all of our construction projects,’ or, ‘Yeah, we have toxic releases, but here is what we are going to do to minimize it,’” said Nixon.
Nixon has been a career environmental manager for the past 40 years and he said that he thought a simple pledge could build consensus, but mainly would provide the non-environmental candidates a tool their campaign platforms could benefit from.
“A pledge like this sidesteps regulation, enforcement, lawsuits and, if applied, gets us where we ultimately want to be…a cleaner ecosystem for our tourists and for our kids to play in, while reducing the regulatory burden on our local governments. That’s the thought and motivation.”
So far, Nixon said the response to the pledge has been positive.
“I have bounced it off of a couple of environmental PhDs that are active in the community and they like it,” said Nixon.
With the candidates, Nixon said the response has been mixed.
“Some people sign it, some people commit to it and some people ignore it,” said Nixon. “I’ve got some signatures with candidates in the areas with the most pollution. So, the response was that something like this pledge is not invasive. That is the elegance of this thing. It is not invasive, it’s not a requirement and it’s not pointing fingers. It’s a voluntary basis and it’s a one on one commitment to the representative.”
Nixon said there are several problems in Escambia County when it comes to environmental issues and it is important for local candidates to recognize and protect their environment.
“There’s biological discharge blowing off into the bay, and the big thing is that there is so much construction that there is a lot of sediment when it rains,” said Nixon. “There’s no enforcement and there’s really no comprehension of the requirements. These politicians, God bless them, but they don’t know anything about the regulations or requirements and it’s not their specialty to know all of the environmental rules. They are pro-business and there is nothing wrong with that, but we have to have the tools and this is a way to establish that awareness.”
Below is the entire Candidate’s Environmental Pledge and Legacy 2022:
As a responsible steward to both the citizens and the environment in
• I recognize Escambia County as a premier environmental tourism destination and
will promote the preservation of oyster beds, sea grasses and heritage oaks.
• I acknowledge that the health of Escambia County residents and natural resources
is directly linked to our exposures from Industrial, biological and stormwater
• I will advocate for annual reduction and reporting of toxic, biological and
stormwater pollutants released into our Air, Water and soil with testing, septic-to-sewer,
pollution prevention, and alignment with the Pensacola & Perdido Bays
• I will establish and expect that Good Community Business Partners and Government
will eliminate or measurably reduce their annual toxic, biological and stormwater
releases into our community.
• I acknowledge that reducing our Carbon Footprint has a positive impact on our
• I acknowledge that sustainable products can be reduced, reused, repaired,
rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, and that nonsustainable
products should be restricted, redesigned or removed from use.
According to the Toxics Release Inventory for 2020, which tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment, Escambia County has a total of 18 TRI facilities that release 25 million pounds of onsite and off-site toxins.