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SB10 has to be a Win for Glades

February 7th's senate hearing in Tallahassee was a win for the Everglades and our estuaries.

Senate Bill 10, calling for the expedited planning and completion of a southern reservoir, took a step in the right direction with unanimous approval from the Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation. This victory brought an air of well-deserved celebration to proponents of Everglades restoration.

Amid the revel, a defining new development took shape. Sparked by residents from the heart of the EAA, several speakers expressed concerns that highlighted the economic hardship of the glades communities, which have suffered poverty and years of 20-40% unemployment, by far the highest in the state.

The message: “We are hurting too. If you have to build this reservoir in order to save the economy and protect the health of the people on both coasts, then find a way in this bill to create jobs here too. Make SB 10 a win-win for both the glades and coastal communities."

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SB10 has to be a Win for Glades

February 7th's senate hearing in Tallahassee was a win for the Everglades and our estuaries.

Senate Bill 10, calling for the expedited planning and completion of a southern reservoir, took a step in the right direction with unanimous approval from the Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation. This victory brought an air of well-deserved celebration to proponents of Everglades restoration.

Amid the revel, a defining new development took shape. Sparked by residents from the heart of the EAA, several speakers expressed concerns that highlighted the economic hardship of the glades communities, which have suffered poverty and years of 20-40% unemployment, by far the highest in the state.

The message: “We are hurting too. If you have to build this reservoir in order to save the economy and protect the health of the people on both coasts, then find a way in this bill to create jobs here too. Make SB 10 a win-win for both the glades and coastal communities."

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Treasure Coast Republicans Face a Choice: Water or Sugar

The ugliest threat to SB 10, Senate President Joe Negron’s bill to cut toxic discharges to the Treasure Coast, may come from mercenary community leaders in his home district. While Martin county’s elected officials, led by Negron, have championed a solution to the crisis, local organizations with ties to Flint, Michigan-based US Sugar are scrambling to undermine the plan.

This week, the Republican Club of Martin County invited an outside critic of the proposal, Dan Peterson, to a local event where he campaigned against SB 10. Club President Darlene Fuggetta said that she recruited Peterson to speak against the bill because his opposition was objective compared to county residents who become emotional about toxic discharges. On top of being openly defiant to Negron and unsympathetic to a community that just spent 242 days under a state of emergency because of toxic algae blooms, Fuggetta’s choice of Peterson as a supposed “free-market” voice was bizarre.

Peterson represents the James Madison Institute, a self-described free market think tank best known for boasting about its “political jiu-jitsu” in support of last year’s ballot amendment to block solar energy competition -- essentially the opposite of a free-market initiative. Peterson’s endorsement of US Sugar’s position, opposing a discharge-reducing reservoir below Lake Okeechobee, also contradicts free-market ideals, supporting one of the state’s most big-government-dependent industries.

Contrast JMI’s pro-sugar position to that of Grover Norquist’s and the Heritage Foundation, a legitimate free-market think tank, calling Florida’s sugar industry and its market-distorting government support “cronyism in its undiluted, inexcusable majesty.”

Nevertheless Peterson took the stage on Tuesday to lobby on behalf of US Sugar and its cohorts against legislation proposed by republican officials to save local businesses, shore up a $9.7 billion fishing economy, and avert a catastrophically costly human health crisis. Fuggetta said that Peterson’s criticism of the bill was based in part on his grasp of the science, aided by extensive discussions with local expert Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society and a former South Florida Water Management District’s Water Resource Advisory Commission member. Perry has no recollection of ever speaking to Peterson.

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Devil Quotes the Scriptures: SFWMD Shapes Science to Lobby Against EAA Reservoir

Our state officials frequently remind people, "I'm not a scientist," but they don't let it stop them from arguing science.

The South Florida Water Management District recently tried to undermine Sen. Joe Negron's proposal to reduce toxic discharges, attempting to "shape" available science in a PR stunt. Their target was the dynamic reservoir planned south of Lake Okeechobee, which the sugar industry opposes.

SFWMD publicly claimed that studies support storage north of the lake as a substitute. This contradicts virtually every hydrologist's findings, including Dr. Thomas Van Lent whose research was attacked in official statements and a splattering of fake news.

The district claimed that its proof came from an independent University of Florida report by Dr. Wendy Graham. But it didn't. The modeling cited in Graham's report wasn't hers -- it was SFWMD's own model, referenced in Graham's report and clearly noted in her January 11 slide presentation to the senate subcommittee conducting a workshop on the issue (see slide below).

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Newsletter: Toxic Algae Linked to ALS, Alzheimer's

By Peter Girard

This summer’s toxic algae blooms may have far-reaching health implications that radically alter the debate over water management in South Florida.

Public health concerns came up frequently at last week’s Everglades Coalition annual conference, including building evidence that exposure to toxic blue-green algae blooms can be linked to increased cancer rates and neurological diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s. Worse, touching the water – even when algae aren’t visible – and even breathing near the shore may expose people to deadly toxins whose affects can take years to surface.

One audience member put it bluntly to a panel including the University of Miami’s Dr. Larry Brand: Do we have to wait 20 years for an epidemic of liver cancer to acknowledge the seriousness of this problem?

 Cyanobacteria in the St. Lucie

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Fake News Attacks Attempt to Divide Everglades Restoration Factions

The fake news industry kicked off the new year in style. A flurry of misinformation from US Sugar’s Judy SanchezJanet Taylor’s “Glades Lives Matter,” the Sunshine State News, the Okeechobee News and others introduced the following stories (in no particular order):

  • Scientists are planning to flood Belle Glade and Clewiston
  • Everglades restoration is a front to eradicate farming
  • Toxic algae blooms don’t come from Lake Okeechobee
  • Federal agencies are killing off endangered species
  • Water can’t flow south into the Everglades in wet years
  • Florida Bay doesn't need any more freshwater than it gets now
  • Lake Okeechobee would be clean without pollution from the north
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Don't Blame the Sparrow

Endangered Species Act Does Not Affect Lake Okeechobee Discharges

By Peter Girard

As Florida officials deflect blame for this year’s toxic algae disaster, the most ridiculous scapegoat they’ve found is a sparrow. This should be funny, but instead it spotlights a coordinated campaign of disinformation to distract the public from the reasons our estuaries are collapsing.

Billions of gallons of Lake Okeechobee were discharged into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries

The accused culprit is the endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, which nests in grassy high ground in the Everglades, called marl prairie. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have worked with state officials to regulate the amount of water sent to the sparrow’s nesting grounds in the spring, to give the birds a chance to breed. But their efforts don’t stop water from being sent into Everglades National Park. In fact, this year they moved more water than ever through the S-333, a spillway connecting Water Conservation Area (WCA) 3A to the park through the L-29 canal.

Nevertheless South Florida Water Management District representatives claimed in November that the state can’t discharge water to the park between February and August, and that the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries would regularly be “bombed” with discharges from Lake Okeechobee as a result. This isn’t true.

Luis Alejandro, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chief, water management section, confirmed that state and federal authorities sent unprecedented volumes of water from WCA 3A into the northest portion of Everglades National Park. In fact, the wettest January on record since 1932 gave the Corps a chance to test its capacity to convey water to the park through Shark River Slough, thanks to a temporary allowance for more water to flow through the L-29 canal, which parallels the Tamiami Trail. “We were able to relay about 115,000 acre feet via S-333 that we couldn’t have sent before the deviation,” Alejandro said.

ACOE_South Florida System

Alejandro estimated that the increase more than compensated for—and potentially doubled—the amount of water that could have been conveyed through two gates at the western edge of the WCA 3A, S-12A and S-12B, which remained mostly closed to direct water away from the sparrows’ nesting grounds. Even in the rainiest dry season in decades, actions taken to protect the birds didn’t restrict the agencies’ ability to send water into Everglades National Park.

That didn’t stop Water Management District representatives from complaining publicly that federal partners shackle the state with a single-species management policy that devastates hundreds of other species, and that the sparrow didn’t historically live in the area being protected in the first place. None of that is true.

Bob Progulske, Everglades program supervisor with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explained the agency’s approach to protecting the sparrow as well as other Everglades species, endangered or not. “We are not managing a single species. We manage habitats, and the marl prairie is itself endangered. Our goal is to preserve the entire ecosystem.”

Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow

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Bullsugar.org Names Water-friendly Political Candidates in All Florida Counties

bullsugar.org/vote: Voter guides highlight fight for Everglades restoration, support Patrick Murphy over Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate. 

September 27, 2016 – Stuart, FL – Bullsugar.org, a 501c4 non-profit dedicated to stopping destructive discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and restoring the flow of clean freshwater to the Everglades, today announced the publication of voter guides for all Florida counties. The guides identify political candidates, including both republicans and democrats, that support legislative action to address Florida’s water management crises and pursue science-based solutions to revitalize Florida’s waterways.

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Once Again, Rick Scott Dismisses Opportunity To Address Toxic Algae Crisis

Stuart, FL – Bullsugar.org, a 501c4 based in Stuart, is asking Governor Rick Scott to address the toxic algae crisis by signing the “Now or Neverglades Declaration” and today released video of their direct ask to Scott at the ICAST 2016 sport fishing trade show in Orlando, which the Governor promptly refused.

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