What's at Stake
Big Sugar and Big Agriculture are destroying the Everglades. Earthjustice has been fighting back for decades, most recently with a lawsuit that aimed to get big polluters off of state owned lands in the Everglades for good.
Pollution from huge sugar and vegetable operations in the Everglades causes a monoculture of cattails that impedes water flows and chokes out other native vegetation, upon which wildlife in the Everglades depends.
This devastating pollution has been happening for decades. In 1994, corporate farms negotiated an exemption through which they gained access to state lands for 20 years, and they’ve been polluting those public lands and adjacent lands ever since. Everglades’ pollution is so severe that taxpayers are funding a multi-billion-dollar state and federal restoration project to fix the damage.
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Rick Scott rubberstamped the polluting operations that are causing the problem to operate within the Everglades for another 30 years, an incredible decision that will both frustrate the taxpayer-led clean up and worsen the pollution problem. In February 2013, Earthjustice sued on behalf of Florida Wildlife Federation to get these polluting operations out of the Everglades for good. A few days later, Big Sugar proposed legislation to block the suit and allow the extension. Despite our efforts to stop it, the Florida Legislature passed Big Sugar’s bill and the governor signed the bill into law in June, 2013, allowing the pollution to continue.
In a fantastic show of grassroots support for clean water, Floridians packed a Environmental Protection Agency meeting in Tampa on Jan. 16, saying they are fed up with repeated slimy algae outbreaks on the state’s beaches, rivers, spring and streams
More than 150 protested, and they wore fluorescent green T-shirts saying, “Ask me about slime.” They asked the EPA to stay strong and enforce pollution limits for sewage, manure and fertilizer—three culprits which are fueling algae outbreaks all over the state.
Earthjustice, on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, is challenging the Florida Board of Trustee’s decision to approve corporate agricultural leases in the Everglades without putting them up for public bid or properly taking the public interest into account.
“This obviously is not in the public interest,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest. “These leases would allow corporate agricultural pollution to continue unabated, and there is no requirement for any additional cleanup.”