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Sugar Industry Seeks To Use Everglades As Toilet

For decades, U.S. sugar barons have been dumping their polluted runoff into the Florida Everglades. Day after day, these politically powerful corporations send chemical fertilizers and pesticides into the great marsh—wrecking America’s only subtropical wilderness in the process.

It’s clearly wrong for sugar plantations to use our public natural resources as their private dumping grounds, and we here at the Florida office of Earthjustice fight many legal battles to stop it.

Recently, we got some curious news. A sugar plantation pollution scheme which was supposedly shelved 24 years ago is now rearing its ugly head again.

With polluter-friendly Rick Scott in the governor’s mansion, Big Sugar is making a move to pump its polluted runoff into one of the last remnants of the original Everglades. They are trying to put a smiley face on it and call it “restoration,” but we know better. We’ve seen this play before.

The area where Big Sugar wants to dump its chemical-laden runoff, in the northern part of the Everglades ecosystem, is colloquially known as the “Holeyland.”

It is not entirely pristine—in fact it is so named because it was used as a bombing range (with resulting “holes” in the limestone substrate) during World War II. But unlike most parts of the Everglades, this is one area which wasn’t drained and planted during the public-works frenzy of the mid-19th and 20th centuries.Experts reviewing ways to fix the Everglades’ extensive damage have long advocated for restoring the Holeyland area to native habitat, so that it can store and filter water the way it once did.

Instead, Big Sugar is wanting to pump its dirty runoff into the Holeyland, while insisting that this is “restoration.” This claim is ridiculous—the whole idea behind the multi-billion dollar Everglades restoration plan is to make sure that runoff is clean before it gets into the Everglades; not to use the Everglades as a cheap and handy dumping ground for well-connected corporate interests. In fact, sending pollution into the Holeyland would violate the provisions of Florida’s landmark 1994 Everglades Forever Act.

We’ll keep you posted on this. We are obviously making our objections to this plan known, and if this ridiculous notion goes any farther, be sure that we will be front and center, fighting against it.

Tags:  Water