Here are the more egregious actions taken by Adam Putnam, for Big Sugar, and against the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and three nationally-important coastal estuaries, since he’s been the Commissioner of Agriculture:
Refused to support the US Sugar land purchase, agreed to in a legal binding contract, for roughly 47,000 acres to restore a flow of water from Lake O to the Everglades – the “sweet” spot for Everglades restoration. The most serious issue facing the Everglades is the lack of water it needs to survive. Today, the EAA, not the lake, is the largest source of water for the Everglades and it’s polluted.
And because that water cannot move past the hundreds of thousands of acres of sugarcane, polluted freshwater from Lake Okeechobee is forced to be discharged into estuaries on both coasts of FL. By the TRILLIONS of gallons. Year after year after year.
Voted to extend the sugar leases of publicly owned lands in the EAA – where that water needs to flow past – giving no-bid, 30-year lease extensions to Florida Crystals and their subsidiaries with lease language that makes it nearly impossible for the state to take back the land and use it for Everglades restoration or any other public purpose. 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.
Rammed through legislation, deleting the deadline for cleaning up Lake O and removing any hope of effectively controlling ag pollution north of Lake Okeechobee for at least another 20 years.
In 2000, the Florida legislature had deemed the calamities harming the Lake O so high they passed a law, giving the state 15 years to have the plans in place to address it. Fifteen years came and went, with the challenge unmet. Not a thing to improve conditions. So, on behalf of sugar and a few other big corporate interests, the Florida Department of Agriculture led the charge to rewrite the law.
Today, nutrient pollution loads entering Lake Okeechobee, which primarily comes from agricultural operations, are higher than they were in 2000.
Refused to support the overwhelming, peer-reviewed scientific consensus behind Senate President Joe Negron and his priority to get the Everglades reservoir approved and funded in 2017. Senator Negron (and Floridians!) were successful in getting Senate Bill 10 passed with the reservoir, though, to be constructed on a smaller footprint and at a greater cost to taxpayers.
Only once the sugar barons and their lobbyists were satisfied with the profound changes to SB10, including taking eminent domain off the table along with any remaining hope for the US Sugar land buy, did Putnam publicly support the reservoir.