Corporate conglomerates (namely, Big Sugar) have contributed to the demise of the Everglades for decades, using the system as a giant septic tank and blocking the flow of water from Lake O into the Everglades. Since the 90’s Adam Putnam has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of Big Sugar’s largess, taking millions and working on behalf of Big Sugar, not Floridians.
Here are the more egregious actions taken against the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and three nationally-important coastal estuaries, for Big Sugar, by Mr. Putnam since he’s been Agriculture Commissioner:
1) Refused to support the land purchase that was agreed to in a legal binding contract between US Sugar and the state for roughly 47,000 acres necessary to restore a flow of water from Lake O to the Everglades. The most serious issue facing the Everglades is the lack of water it needs from the lake to survive. And because that water cannot move past 500,000 acres of sugar land, that polluted freshwater (fresh, is a misnomer) is forced to be discharged into saltwater rivers and estuaries on both coasts of FL.
By the trillions of gallons.
The devastation this has caused to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, and everything in between is immoral should be criminal. That same water is supposed to move south to be cleansed and released into the Everglades and down to Florida Bay, as God and nature intended, which both rely on clean freshwater for their very survival. The conditions of Florida Bay due to hyper-salinity conditions today make grown men cry.
2) Voted to extend the leases of publicly owned lands in the EAA – where that water needs to flow past – giving an unprecedented 30-year lease to Florida Crystals and US Sugar on the 18,000 critical acres the politicians and sugar knew would be necessary. Today, because of the airtight agreement they entered into, we cannot force them off the people’s own land to accomplish what is so desperately needed – and had been agreed to be all stakeholders, including sugar and the Everglades Trust and Foundation in 1999 and signed into law by Jeb Bush and Bill Clinton with overwhelming bi-partisan support.
3) Rammed through legislation, with Matt Caldwell as his horse in the State House, giving ag polluters at least 20 more years of mostly unabated filth to pour into Lake Okeechobee. The legislature in 2000 had deemed the calamities harming the big lake so high they passed a law, giving the state 15 years to have the plans in place to address it. And 15 years came and went, with the challenge unmet. Not a thing to improve conditions. So, on behalf of sugar and a few other interests, they gave themselves another 20 years. Not to fix it. To come up with a plan to fix it. Meanwhile, all the waterways and Lake O continue to be degraded.
4) Refused to support Senate President Joe Negron (R) and his work to get the EAA reservoir approved and funded in 2017. Senator Negron (and Floridians!) were successful in getting SB10 passed, though it was significantly weakened by Big Sugar and their political enablers.