Polluters Win Big, Again

Very sadly, the Pollution Establishment still rules supreme in Everglades restoration.

Polluter power represents a continuing failure that affects all of our uses of the waters. Worse, our pandering to a few powerful profiteers decreases ourreal values and even threatens public health.

Now, a prestigious committee of independent (independent being a crucial word) scientists warns in an alarming report that much too little has been done to fix the Glades. The 18 academic scientists of the National Research Council warn that a focus on central Everglades hydrology is needed “before it’s too late.”(You might let a search engine take you to the NRC findings.)

But, hey, you may ask: What about the big task force that’s making happy headlines under the watchful eye of the South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers? Even some respected environmental groups are caving in to what we think amounts to a do-little morass of projects that willsimply preserve the status quo. And take decades to do it.

Of course it’s hard to blame folks these days for desperately seeking some feel-good moments amid the stress of coping.

Trouble is,the underlying cause of that stress will degrade the waters and Glades again and again. It may not be so smart to slip into a pretend world.

The grand plan being proposed is to spend some $880 million mostly on deep reservoirs that will serve agricultural drainage but do next to nothing to reduce the astoundingly large polluted discharges to the east and west coasts.

Fortunately, the NRC is not the only concerned entity. The water managers are taken to task, as it were, in an open letter from the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund. The Defense Fund emphasizes that a flowway south from Lake Okeechobee is a must, but is ignored by agriculture-cozy planners.

Thetask force combine of agencies also carefully ignores any mention of the still-existing option to purchase U.S. Sugar cane fields in order to develop a “Missing Link” flowway. It’s as if the possibility no longer exists. As if all those ringing endorsements and global publicity favoring the purchase never happened. All seems forgotten.

“The sugar industry enjoys guaranteed profits, perfect drainage and perfect water supply, all paid for by you and me,” the Defense Fund states, adding:

“Apparently, we can break this cycle of abuse only by electing new and responsible leaders.”

The board of the Defense Fund (on which I happily serve) unanimously calls for an end to the federal sugar subsidies, a “wasteful program that not only costs the public billions in extra supermarket prices but causes immense damages to the Everglades and estuaries.”

Cutting the government handouts, though, might threaten sugar baron PepeFanjul’s dizzying fortunes and even his standing as one of the world’s top ten dressers.

Asked by a fashion magazine about his favorite apparel, Pepe said he most enjoys his custom satin slippers made for him by his London shoemaker.

How sweet it is for him.