TC PALM: What's behind push for deep injection wells near Lake O?

TC PALM: Written by Gil Smart. June 13,2017.

When it comes to preventing discharges from Lake Okeechobee, shouldn't every option be on the table?

Or are some options designed to crowd out others?

Last week, officials with the South Florida Water Management District thumbed their noses at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and vowed to plow forward with deep-injection wells — 3,000-foot holes in the ground into which excess water could be pumped during heavy rain events.

In theory, it might be a great idea. But some environmentalists suspect it's a misdirection play designed to build wells instead of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

District officials deny this. But, as always when it comes to Florida water issues, it's hard to tell whether pragmatism or politics is driving the bus.

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WALL STREET JOURNAL: Trump’s New Sugar High

Wall Street Journal: June 12, 2017.

The Trump Administration last week announced a new agreement with Mexico to guarantee that sugar prices in both countries will remain well above the world market price. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross framed the deal as a big win—and it is, for the few sugar producers on both sides of the border. The losers are millions of consumers.

No industry has enjoyed as much protection under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) as sugar producers and refiners. Mexico raised its sugar import tariffs from third countries in 1994 to match U.S. protection levels and thereby form a customs union. While most of the U.S. economy had to adapt to competition from Canada and Mexico starting in 1994, the U.S. market remained heavily protected from Mexican sugar until 2008.

Even when the market opened, U.S. sugar interests refused to adapt and filed antidumping and countervailing duty suits against Mexican exports. In 2014 the Commerce Department ruled in their favor. Mexico could have fought that ruling at a Nafta arbitration panel but its sugar lobby also likes high prices.

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PALM BEACH POST: Buyback of conservation zone near Boynton lauded by environmentalists

Palm Beach Post: Written by Wayne Washington. June 18, 2017. 

Preservationists and environmentalists are on the verge of another victory in their quest to limit building in Palm Beach County’s Agricultural Reserve, a 22,000-acre farming and land conservation zone west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach that has been under increasing development pressure.

County commissioners advanced a proposed budget Tuesday that includes $3 million to begin a three-year, $9 million process to reacquire full ownership of a 571-acre tract the county purchased with public bond money in 2000.

The South Florida Water Management District purchased a 61 percent stake in the land in 2006 for $13.7 million to help with its Lake Okeechobee and Everglades cleanup plan. But when the district’s plan to build a reservoir on the land changed, the district approached the county about a joint sale.

That angered environmentalists and preservationists who feared that private ownership of the land would open the door to its eventual development, even if the buyer was the Pero farming family, which currently leases it for agriculture.

They urged the county to reacquire full ownership of the land to ensure its continued availability for agriculture, preservation or environmental protection.

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EYE ON MIAMI: Conclusion: The Agony of Florida, Its Rivers, Bays, Estuaries and Politics

Eye on Miami: Written by Gimleteye. June 15, 2017. 

Donald Trump won the White House with talking points that stirred a devoted base. One of them: "The system is rigged." In so far as Big Sugar and the state of Florida are concerned, Trump is right. The system is rigged. But what does one do with that information?

First and foremost, understand: Big Sugar has an Achilles Heel. Big Sugar's singular vulnerability is that its reliable voters don't extend beyond a few communities huddled around the Everglades Agricultural Area. That's why Big Sugar is laser-focused on the internal clock spring of politics, but not so helping anyone understand how to connect the dots. If fact, Big Sugar is vigilant in this respect.

Florida's sugar producers are astute in doling out political money -- to both Democrats and Republicans -- through affiliations for example; allying with and funding hand-in-hand with other cartel enterprises in Florida, like the state's electric utilities, and unrelated business councils like Associated Industries of Florida. In a perfect democracy Big Sugar would only be a special interest vying on a level playing field with the public good.

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ABC NEWS: Health chief, 4 others charged with manslaughter in Flint

ABC News: Written by David Eggert. June 14, 2017. 

Five people, including the head of Michigan's health department, were charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter in an investigation of Flint's lead-contaminated water, all blamed in the death of an 85-year-old man who had Legionnaires' disease.

Nick Lyon is the highest-ranking member of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's administration to be snagged in a criminal investigation of how the city's water system became poisoned after officials tapped the Flint River in 2014.

Lyon, 48, the director of the Health and Human Services Department, is accused of failing to alert the majority-black population about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area, which has been linked by some experts to poor water quality in 2014-15.

An involuntary manslaughter conviction carries up to 15 years in prison.

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PALM BEACH POST: Don’t be fooled by disingenuous grower

Palm Beach Post: Written by Paul O' Neil. June 13, 2017.

Keith Wedgworth’s opinion piece, “Glades farmers again bear brunt of reservoir efforts” (June 6), is pure propaganda.

Wedgworth portrays his family as toil-and-soil farmers who provide Americans with “fruits, vegetables, and grains.” In reality, they are sugar barons. The “food” they grow has no nutritional value and is a cause of America’s obesity and diabetes epidemics.

The Wedgworths also own Florida’s largest fertilizer company. Fertilizer runoff is a contributor to Florida’s water pollution and toxic algae blooms.

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TAMPA BAY TIMES: Column: Adam Putnam's selective environmental concerns

Tampa Bay Times: Written by Kimberly Mitchell. February 7, 2017. 

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam seems quite selective when it comes to his concerns — suspiciously so.

Surprising? No.

Disappointing? Absolutely.

At last week's Associated Press legislative planning session in Tallahassee, Putnam talked to the media about citrus greening, pythons in the Everglades, screwworms, the mosquito-borne Zika virus and the Giant African Land Snail.

The toxic blue-green algae that has ravaged both of Florida's coasts in two of the last three years? The putrid, disgusting goo that has sickened children, closed businesses, killed fish and wildlife and forced people along the waterways to abandon their homes?

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PALM BEACH POST: ACLU: State failed to warn public of health dangers of toxic algae bloom

Palm Beach Post. Written by John Pacenti. June 7, 2017.

The American Civil Liberties of Florida is taking aim at the state, saying it failed to adequately warn the public of the health dangers related to toxic algae blooms on the Treasure Coast communities last year.

The ACLU on Wednesday issued the report, “Tainted Waters: Threats to Public Health and the People’s Right to Know,” concluding blue-green algae have not been sufficiently researched by the state.

The Palm Beach Post last year published a story on a group of prominent researchers have tied blue-green algae to neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease and ALS.

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FLORIDA SPORTSMAN: The State of Florida’s Seagrass

Florida Sportsman: Written by David Conway. June 7, 2017. 

Florida’s seagrass woes can be illustrated by understanding another familiar, American ecological disaster: the Dust Bowl. Demand for grains boomed in America after WWI and Midwest farmers plowed under native grasses to meet that demand. When the Depression hit, demand fell, and they abandoned those lands. Prolonged drought followed and when the winds hit those soils without the native grasses, the soils literally blew away. The resulting calamity caused mass migrations and economic devastation.

Florida’s agricultural and waterway architects have constructed a similar scenario for our state. Instead of land, we have sea. Instead of wind, we get water. Instead of dust, we get algae. It’s happened on various scales for the last 50 years in the state with the replumbing of the waterways and Lake Okeechobee, and now it’s threatening the health not only of estuaries to the west and east of the lake, again, but also Florida Bay.

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TC PALM: Fight for Lake Okeechobee reservoir not over, Joe Negron says

TC Palm: Written by Tyler Treadway & Isadora Rangel. June 6, 2017.

Getting a reservoir to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges through the Legislature was a major undertaking, but it's only step one before the project becomes a reality, state Senate President Joe Negron acknowledged Monday.

Negron said he's an "optimist" and expects the reservoir to get built in three to four years. Before that happens, the South Florida Water Management District has to meet several deadlines and Congress needs to act.

Negron spoke in to a crowd of more than 100 people at Ground Floor Farm in Stuart during TCPalm's Pop-up Community Conversation, which brings readers, journalists and community leaders together to discuss local issues.

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