Every single day, we work over, around and through obstacles in the name of Everglades restoration. This work has never been easy, but these obstacles have made it more difficult, dragging out real solutions years, even decades, longer than necessary. This week we hurdled over another big one.
We told you last month Florida Crystals notified the SFWMD they would “agree” to terminate a lease on land that is crucial to the EAA reservoir. The lease extension was granted by the prior administration in a gift to sugar before the new Governor could be sworn into office - a deliberate move to delay the EAA reservoir project. Instead of allowing the land to be returned to its rightful owner - the public - the former administration handed us yet another obstacle to Everglades restoration we’d have to battle to remove.
We also told you about Governor DeSantis’ efforts to unwind that lease. Last week, the Governor and Florida Cabinet worked to unwind a separate but related lease. See, back in 2013, Florida Crystals asked the prior Governor and Cabinet to approve an additional 30-year lease to grow sugarcane on state-owned land. When environmental groups objected to the extensions because the land was likely to be needed in the future for Everglades restoration, Big Sugar had its doo-boy Matt Caldwell tuck language into legislation that mooted any legal challenge to the action.
As a result, the Governor and Florida's Cabinet had to deal with the consequences of the bad deal the prior Governor and Cabinet adopted. To get out of the state lease, the Governor and Cabinet has to pay $2.4 million in termination fees to Florida Crystals. While that is painful, we can't get through this obstacle without paying their price. That's how they rig the system, through complex moves that always, no matter what, benefit them. And always come at the expense of the taxpayers, our waterways, and America’s Everglades.
We're grateful to Governor DeSantis and the Cabinet for unwinding sugar’s lease of the public’s land so the EAA reservoir project can move forward. It has taken way too long to get here, but Floridians are finally seeing real leadership in action. The clock is ticking fast. The Governor’s push and persistence, through DEP and the South Florida Water Management District’s governing board, could not have come at a more important time.
This is nothing new from the sugar cartel, straight from their obstructionist playbook. What's new is that we have politicians willing to dismantle the complex web of control the sugar industry has enjoyed for decades. It can't happen soon enough.
Buckle up, foot-draggers, you’re in for a bumpy ride.
For everyone else, stick with us!
This move by the Governor and the Cabinet unwinds sugar’s lease of the public’s land – given away by the previous administration in 2013 – so the Everglades reservoir and treatment project can move forward.
It has taken way too long to get here, and the clock is ticking fast, but Governor Ron DeSantis' push and persistence, through DEP and the South Florida Water Management District’s governing board, could not have come at a more important time.
In other good news, permits have been issued moving us a giant step closer to raising more of the roadway on Tamiami Trail so that freshwater can flow under and into the Everglades.
This is a crucial project for Everglades restoration, we’re thrilled to see it moving quickly!
A new bipartisan effort is underway to reform the bloated federal sugar subsidy program, a program that hasn’t changed in 80 years!
Last year, Big Sugar managed to kill an amendment to the Federal Farm Bill which would have reformed their corporate welfare scheme.
It was hard to watch, but only three Florida politicians were willing to stand up to sugar and vote their conscience: then-Congressman Ron DeSantis, Congressman Brian Mast, and Congressman Francis Rooney all voted in favor of the amendment, but that wasn’t enough to overcome sugar’s influence in Congress.
Now, we’ve got another chance to reform the program. Big Sugar will hate it. But this is where real change begins.
Call your representatives and tell them you support Fair Sugar Policy.