Judge Clears Obstacle for Everglades Purchase

Buying polluters out still best chance to restore Everglades


David Guest, Earthjustice, (850) 681-0031

Earthjustice applauds today’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Federico A. Mareno, which clears the way for the largest conservation purchase in state history.

After hearing arguments on Wednesday, Mareno today denied a motion filed by the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians which would have forced the state to keep working on a huge Everglades reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. It is not clear that the reservoir would have any value once the state completes its planned $1.7 billion purchase of 187,000 acres now owned by U.S. Sugar Corp because the former sugar fields will provide the marshland needed to aid the Everglades.

Earthjustice, representing the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Florida Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association, Florida Chapter Sierra Club, and Audubon Society of the Everglades, opposed the Miccosukee Tribe’s motion.

The judge agreed with Earthjustice’s argument that forcing the state to build the expensive reservoir would be an impediment to the greater work of buying and reclaiming the U.S. Sugar holdings.

“Logically speaking,” Moreno’s order said, “the most successful long-term solution to Everglades pollution may be to buy out the polluters, and currently that option appears viable. Perhaps only action of that magnitude will give the Everglades a chance at returning to the idea of environmental sustainability.”

Earthjustice attorney David Guest argued in front of Moreno on Tuesday, August 12. Moreno made his ruling only a day later.

“The acquisition of U.S. Sugar lands goes to the core of what’s necessary to Everglades restoration,” Guest said. “We’re pleased to see that the judge agrees.” 

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