PALM BEACH POST: Water managers defend lease to sugar-grower Florida Crystals

Palm Beach Post: Written by Kimberly Miller. December 6, 2018.

Water managers Thursday defended the decision that allows sugarcane farming to continue on land slated for a reservoir amid criticism that late public notice given for a November vote was underhanded and “stinky.”

Copies of internal emails obtained through a public records request include mid-October discussions about the eight-year lease to Florida Crystals, a draft agenda that lists the lease as an item intended for a vote and a draft press release announcing the Nov. 8 decision.

But the lease wasn’t specifically included in the final agenda until about 9 p.m. the night before the meeting, leaving some environmental groups condemning the last-minute posting and inability of the public to review the terms.

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WSVN: Thousands of acres burned in Florida’s Everglades

WSVN: Written by Associated Press. December 2, 2018.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A fast-moving brush fire in South Florida’s Everglades has burned about 2,300 acres and is only about 50 percent contained.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on Sunday that the brush fire started in western Broward County on Friday. Scott Peterich, a wildfire mitigation specialist for the Florida Forest Service, said the fire will burn for the next couple of days unless rain helps put it out.

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DAILY PRESS: A Nightmare Farm Bill for Conservatives

Daily Press: Written by Daren Baskt. December 2, 2018.

We’re in the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean conservative legislators should take a holiday from their conservative principles. Unfortunately, the farm bill devised by House and Senate negotiators would require them to do just that.

Farm bills past have repeatedly disappointed those who believe in free markets, reduced dependency on government, and individual freedom. This latest farm bill, according to published reports, would be the worst in recent memory. It doesn’t just ignore these core principles—it flouts them.

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NEWS PRESS: Algae toxins are airborne and can reach deep into human lungs, FGCU research shows

News Press: Written by Amy Bennett Williams. November 27, 2018.

Anyone breathing near the dense blue-green algae blooms that plagued the region last summer likely inhaled some toxins deep into their lungs, FGCU research released Tuesday shows.

What’s not yet clear is what impact that exposure could have to human health, said Mike Parsons, the professor of marine science who coordinated the study.

When there are outbreaks, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection samples water to check what variety of algae are present and how concentrated they are. During the recent bloom, it found one variety of blue-green algae, Microcystis aeruginosa, at levels the World Health Organization considers a high risk of affecting human health.

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NAPLES DAILY NEWS: Red tide suspected as dead dolphins wash up on Collier, Lee beaches

Naples Daily News: Written by Jake Allen. November 27, 2018.

Dolphins appear to be the latest victim of red tide in Southwest Florida, as 22 have washed up dead on beaches in Collier and Lee counties since last Wednesday, one official said.

Blair Mase, a marine mammal stranding coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said tests need to be completed but that it seems the dolphins are being killed by brevetoxin from red tide.

Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were testing water at beaches and collecting the bodies of dead dolphins and other marine life across Lee and Collier counties Monday.

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TAMPA BAY TIMES: New Governor Ron DeSantis, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried no friends of Big Sugar

Tampa Bay Times: Written by Craig Pittman. November 26, 2018.

Florida's sugar growers have long been one of the most politically powerful industries in the state, with dozens of friendly politicians creating or blocking laws to benefit its bottom line.

But the 2018 election is likely to leave a sour taste in Big Sugar's mouth.

Now that the recount's results have been certified, Florida will have a governor and an agriculture commissioner who are not exactly friendly to sugar. Governor-elect Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner-elect Nikki Fried were both opposed by sugar interests, but won anyway.

Environmental groups are hoping that despite being from different parties (DeSantis is a pro-Trump Republican, Fried a pro-marijuana Democrat), the pair will team up to take on the sugar industry.

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WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Good News: Big Sugar lost in Florida

Washington Examiner: Written by Washington Examiner. November 24, 2018.

The most satisfying aspect of the contentious elections in Florida may be the thorough drubbing of heavily subsidized Big Sugar, and the exposure of yet another feared special interest as a paper tiger.

The sugar industry in the U.S. is dependent on government support. Most notably, the U.S. government throttles sugar imports, thus driving up the price. Uncle Sam bolsters that protectionism with a crony capitalist web of subsidies, loans, and purchases of excess sugar. This kills jobs in the food industry (candymakers move overseas where they can use market-price sugar), but it increases profits for the U.S. sugar producers. Big Sugar recycles these crony profits into campaign contributions.

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TAMPA BAY TIMES: More rain, hurricanes and flooding are in the forecast for Florida, warns new climate report

Tampa Bay Times: Written by Craig Pittman. November 24, 2018.

Four years ago, federal officials published a report that labeled the Tampa Bay area as one area in Florida particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels. The report, the Third National Climate Assessment, also warned of increases in harmful algae blooms off Florida’s coast, worsening seasonal allergies for people already made miserable by springtime pollen and heavier rainstorms and flooding in low-lying areas.

On Friday, federal officials released their followup, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which over the course of 1,000 pages looks at how climate change is already disrupting life in the United States — with more hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves and other disasters — and what communities are doing to deal with it.

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NEWS PRESS: Critics say water management governing board members should step down

News Press: Written by Chad Gillis. November 25, 2018.

Some environmental groups are calling for South Florida water managers to step down after they approved a lease on lands meant for a reservoir and voted to vacate a legal agreement aimed at improving water quality in the historic Everglades.

Governing board members of the South Florida Water Management District last week approved a lease with Florida Crystals for land that has been designated for the Everglades Agriculture Area, or EAA, reservoir.

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EYE ON MIAMI: Matt Caldwell: don't let the door hit you on the way out ...

Eye on Miami: Written by Ray Judah. November 21, 2018.

Eye On Miami has written extensively on Ray Judah, a former county commissioner from Lee County who had served his community for 24 years when his 2012 reelection campaign was up-ended by a $1MM dark money hit job coordinated by a fellow Republican state legislator, Matt Caldwell.

Judah had the courage -- virtually alone among Republican electeds in Florida -- to challenge Big Sugar's dominance of water management practices and policies. The net result of successive legislatures and governors, mostly under Republican leadership, materialized as toxic algae blooms harmful to public health, to the environment, and devastating to coastal economies that depend on clean water.

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