Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will be asked on Wednesday to agree to a no-bid contract to allow two major agriculture companies to farm on Everglades land for another 30 years, a deal that would include pouring tons of phosphorous-laden fertilizer onto the site the state is spending billions to clean-up.
The request from Florida Crystals and A. Duda and Sons is supported by the state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard and South Florida Water Management District officials. But environmentalists aren’t happy. Download 012313_BOT-Attachment-4
“The State of Florida is putting 13,952 acres of state land off the table as a possible solution to future problems,’’ said Charles Lee, director of advocacy for Audubon of Florida at a meeting of the Cabinet aides last week. “It is passing up an opportunity.” Download Lee letter on EAA Lease Extensionsf
Environmentalists have agreed to allow Florida Crystals to continue sugar farming 7,862 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area because they believe the company is “holding the state hostage” and won’t allow a crucial next step to go forward in the Everglades clean-up plan if they don’t get the deal.
But environmentalists strongly oppose the Duda deal, which would allow that company to continue to grow vegetables on 6,089 acres of land and pump 339 tons of fertilizer each year into the Everglades, exacerbating the clean-up problem the state is spending billions to fix. They want the state to require Duda to reduce its phosphorous run-off in exchange for the favorable no-bid contract. Full story here.
According to emails obtained by the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau, Tracy Peters of the Division of State Lands initially suggested that Florida Crystals reduce its pollution levels in exchange for the lease extension. But the attorney for the company, Silvia Morell Alderman of Akerman Senterfitt, responded that such requirements “would be deal breakers” because the company has been improving its phosphorous levels for 17 years.
Peters then backed off and, on several occasions, asked Alderman’s permission to make other minor changes to the proposal, the emails show. Download Glades emails