History Bears Repeating
The Everglades comprise the largest subtropical wetland ecosystem in North America and is recognized as one of the most important on the planet. It is a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.
A vast watershed that historically extended from the Upper Kissimmee chain of lakes, through Lake Okeechobee and south to Florida Bay the Everglades watershed refers to the interconnected ecosystems of water, land, and climate spanning nearly 18,000 square miles.
Home to more than 80 endangered species of plants and animals, this unique and endangered ecosystem also provides the drinking water supply for more than 9 million Floridians and untold millions of people who visit South Florida. This is not small stuff. It's big.
The Public's Successes
The Everglades has been butchered, drained, diked, and polluted – but it is still alive. Saving this remarkable place is doable, though time is running out and the clock is ticking faster. This incredibly unique ecosystem is the nexus of our water-based tourism economy, the economics this great system generates and makes possible exceed anything else in Florida.
Federal Sugar Subsidies
Sugar Welfare®™ is growing a nutritionally useless crop using underpriced labor, getting rules and laws written that gives you indirect ownership of the public’s water, having the taxpayers pay to clean up the filth that pours off your land, all while evading actual market competition by receiving legal dispensation to overcharge for a product that’s harming us all and preventing clean freshwater from reaching the Everglades.
Yes, it’s a mouthful. It’s also the truth.
Most folks think it’s the tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions Big Sugar doles out every year that ensures they call all the shots. It helps, for sure. But there is a lot more to sugar’s game.
One of their tactics to keep pollution and harmful practices unregulated to any practical extent is to “capture” the regulators.
Bring on Restoration
For about the past 7000 years, rain has fallen on the Kissimmee basin, and flowed south into Lake Okeechobee. Humans have changed the timing of inflows, and maybe increased the volume a bit, and agriculture has certainly polluted that water, but it flows more or less the same today.
But south of Lake Okeechobee, nothing works at all like it did. Water used to flow south to the Everglades from Lake Okeechobee, while today, not nearly enough does. Instead of being supplied by Lake O, the sugar industry takes that water. The EAA is now the largest source of water for the Everglades, and it’s polluted.
Obstacles aka Big Sugar
We've known what the repercussions of this broken water management system would be since the 50s, with plans to fix it since the 80s, laws on the books between the state and federal govt since 2000 – the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (or CERP) and the support of Florida taxpayers forever.
The solutions are known and have already been agreed to, yet the foot dragging continues. And so do the discharges - year after year after year - to both coasts of Florida. Meanwhile, the Everglades is desperate for that freshwater to be cleaned and sent their way.
Pay to Play Corruption
Consider this: From 2017 to 2022, Big Sugar has poured more than $40 million into the coffers of state politicians (doesn’t include local or federal contributions). And that number is just what we can prove using data from the Florida’s Division of Elections website.
Astroturf & Propaganda
Two federally-subsidized sugar corporations – US Sugar and Florida Crystals – fund an entire cottage industry that makes a fortune keeping things broken.
They spend tens of millions of dollars each year protecting the death grip they hold over the public’s water. They dole it out as political contributions to politicians and lavish monthly retainers on hundreds of lobbyists and consultants.