The Everglades: Where Money, Politics & Race Collide


NOW, ON CBS4 NEWS IN DEPTH, TRACKING A MANMADE ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER AND ITS AFTERMATH. THE BLUE-GREEN ALGAE BLOOMS HAVE TURNED WATERWAYS INTO A THICK SOUP. ALGAE BLOOMS FROM NUTRIENT RICH WATER FROM LAKE OKEECHOBEE. ENVIRONMENTALISTS CALLING AN ECOLOGICAL DISASTER. THIS IS AN ALGAE BLOOM THAT COULD BE SEEN FROM SAFE, PROMPTING A CRISIS IN FLORIDA. HOW MANY LOBBYISTS DID YOU HAVE ON THAT BILL. A FEW. ON THE OUTFIT OF THE MANMADE TRAGEDY, EMOTIONS RAN HIGH. HOW TO SELL A WATER FRONT HOME WHEN IT’S STINKY SLIME ON THE WATER. GOOD LUCK BEING A REALTOR IN THAT ENVIRONMENT. I’M GOING TO CATCH HELL FOR THIS BUT IT WON’T BE THE FIRST TIME. I’M SORRY, BUT WHEN YOU’RE LIVING ON THE INTERCOASTAL WATERWAY IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA AND YOUR $300,000 BOAT HAS ALGAE BUMPING UP AGAINST IT, I CAN’T SHED A TEAR. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN, CBS4’S JIM DeFEDE TRACKED THE ALGAE BLOOM AND HOW THE COMMUNITIES AROUND THE LAKE ARE CAUGHT BETWEEN COMPETING INTERESTS. OH, I THINK PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY ANYBODY WOULD WANT TO LIVE HERE. I THINK THEY THINK IT’S WORST PLACE ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH. WE SEARCHED FOR ANSWERS IN THE SWAMPS OF SOUTH FLORIDA, THE HALLS OF THE CAPITOL IN TALLAHASSEE AND RIGHT UP TO WASHINGTON. DO YOU THINK THE FARMING COMMUNITY HAS BEEN BAD FOR THE EVERGLADES, BAD FOR FLORIDA. I DON’T THINK INTENTIONALLY, BUT CLEARLY THEIR POLLUTANTS, PESTICIDES, THOSE AREN’T GOOD THINGS FOR A NATURAL ENVIRONMENT TO EXIST OR FOR THE SPECIES THAT EXIST WITHIN THAT NATURAL ENVIRONMENT. IT KILLS STUFF. I BELIEVE WE CAN DO A LOT TO RESTORE THE EVERGLADES AND AT THE SAME TIME I HAVE TO WIPE OUT THE GLADES COMMUNITY. THE MINUTE WE LOSE THE ABILITY TO HAVE FRESH WATER IN SOUTH FLORIDA, THE ECONOMY IS GONE, LET ALONE OUR WATER SUPPLY. AND WE EXAMINE THE SUCCESSES AND FAILURES BEHIND THE EFFORTS TO RESTORE THE RIVER OF GRASS. WAS THIS AN AREA OF FRICTION BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR BROTHER. A LITTLE BIT, YEAH. IT’S A MIRACLE THERE’S ANY EVERGLADES LEFT, IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, BUT WHAT IS THERE, CERTAINLY WAS WHAT WE WERE RAISING HELL ABOUT. THE EVERGLADES, WHERE POLITICS, MONEY AND RACE COLLIDE. TO FIND THE SOURCES OF ALGAE BLOOM, YOU DRIVE NORTH OUT OF MIAMI ALONG STATE HIGHWAY 27 AFTER LITTLE MORE THAN AN HOUR, YOU’RE IN PALM BEACH COUNTY. THIS IS WESTERN PALM BEACH COUNTY, FARM COUNTRY, WHERE EVERY YEAR A BILLION DOLLARS IN LETTUCE, SWEET CORN, GREEN BEANS, RADISHES AND SUGAR CANE IS PRODUCED AND IN THE HEART OF THE FARMLAND IS LAKE OKEECHOBEE. IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND PRECISELY HOW LAKE OKEECHOBEE FUELED LAST YEAR’S TOXIC ALGAE BLOOM, YOU HAVE TO RECALL THAT IN LATE 2015, AND EARLY 2016, A HEAVIER THAN EXPECTED RAINY SEASON CAUSED THE WATER LEVEL IN LAKE OKEECHOBEE TO RISE TO NEARLY 17 FEET KEEPING THE WATER IN PLACE, THE HERBERT HOOVER DIKE AN EARTH AND BERM THAT CIRCLES THE LAKE. THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS THAT OPERATES THE 70-YEAR-OLD DIKE DETERMINED IN 2005 IT WAS ON THE VERGE OF COLLAPSE, AND MORE THAN A DECADE LATER, IT REMAINS IN A DIRE STATE AS LIEUTENANT COLONEL JENNIFER REYNOLDS EXPLAINED RECENTLY TO THE FLORIDA STATE SENATE. THAT DAM IS NOT SAFE FOR THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE AND WORK AROUND THE LAKE. FOR THE 40,000 PEOPLE AT RISK WHO LIVE JUST SOUTH OF THE DIKE, THE THREAT SEEMED ALL IN 1928, A HURRICANE SLAMMED INTO LAKE OKEECHOBEE, CAUSING THE LAKE TO OVERFLOW ITS BANKS AND FLOOD THE NEARBY TOWNS OF BELGRADE, SOUTH BAY, AS MANY AS 3000 PEOPLE WERE KILLED, PHOTOS FROM THE FLORIDA ARCHIVES ILLUSTRATE THE AFTERMATH. HOMES DESTROYED, BODIES LYING IN THE STREET, ROWS OF MAKESHIFT COFFINS. WHEN THE MOST RECENT PROBLEMS WITH THE HERBERT HOOVER DIKE WERE DISCOVERED, THE CORPS INITIATED EMERGENCY REPAIRS. THE PACE HAS BEEN GRADUAL WHEN CONGRESS SHROUD TO FUND THE $1.6 BILLION PROJECT. AS OF NOW, THE REPAIRS ARE NOT EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETE UNTIL 2025. WHERE WASHINGTON LET US DOWN IS THE COMPETE INEPTITUDE OF THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, I MEAN, YOU CAN’T MAKE IT UP. THEIR SYSTEMS ARE HORRIBLE. THE MANAGING OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE, THE DIKE THAT’S STILL GOING ON. I MEAN, THAT’S A SERIOUS ISSUE THAT NEEDS TO BE FIXED. Reporter: JP SASSER WAS THE LONG TIME MAYER WHICH SITS IN THE SHADOW — MAYOR, WHICH SITS IN THE SHADOW OF THE DIKE. THEY’RE THE ARMY, THEY FOLLOW ORDERS. YOU FIND OUT WHO’S GIVING ORDERS AND GIVE THEM THE ORDER TO FINISH THE DIKE AND FUND IT. ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS DOING THEIR JOB TO THE BEST OF THEIR ABILITY BUT THEY’RE CAUGHT CONSTANTLY WITH POLITICAL INFIGHTING, TOLD ONE MINUTE TO DO THIS, THE NEXT MINUTE TO DO THAT. FUND THE PEOPLE, PUT THE MONEY WHERE IT NEEDS TO GO AND LET THE PEOPLE DO THEIR JOB AND STAY OUT OF THE DAMN MIDDLE OF IT. HAM STRUNG, THEY ESTABLISHED SPECIAL RULES FOR LAKE OKEECHOBEE, DESIGNED TO KEEP THE LAKE ARTIFICIALLY LOW, REDUCING THE CHANCE IT WOULD FAIL. AS THE 2016 RAINY SEASON HITS AND THE CORE OPENED THE FLOOD GATES HERE AT MOOR HAVEN AND ULTIMATELY THE GULF OF MEXICO, AND HERE AT FORT MIAKA WHERE IT WILL BE SENT INTO THE ST. LUCIE ESTUARY. IT’S THE SINGLE BIGGEST ACT OF POLLUTION THAT OCCURS IN THIS COUNTRY IS WHEN, IT’S A HORRIFIC THING TO SEE. SCIENTISTS ESTIMATE THERE IS 50,000 TONS OF PHOSPHORUS SITTING ON THE BOTTOM OF THE LEG, AND ORANGE GROVES, ALL FLOW DOWN THE CANALS AND LAKES ALONG THE KISSIMMEE RIVER. AND ARE DUMPED UNTREATED INTO LAKE OKEECHOBEE. EVERYTHING FROM ORLANDO SOUTH JUST FLOWS INTO THAT LAKE LIKE AN OPEN SEWER. IN THE 1990s, MITCHELL BERGER WAS ADVISER TO AL GORE AND FLORIDA GOVERNOR. THE LAKE IS GOING TO DIE, UNLESS WE DEAL WITH THE LAKE RIGHT AWAY, IT’S GOING TO DIE, SO WHEN THE LAKE DIES, SOUTH FLORIDA IS IN A LOT OF TROUBLE. PHOSPHOROUS, HOWEVER, IS NOT THE CONCERN OF THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS. THEY LOOK AT THE MONEY, AND THE POLITICAL DECISION, BUT IT’S AN ENGINEERING ONE. THIS IS WHAT WE THINK THE CURRENT DIKE CAN HOLD, AND THAT’S WHAT WE’RE GOING TO HOLD IT AT. IF IT TRIES TO GO OVER, IT’S GOING TO RELEASE WATER, AND IT MAY HAVE PHOSPHATES AND THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE FOCUSED ON, WE’RE FOCUSED ON ENGINEERING, PERIOD. ON JANUARY 30TH, 2016, THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS OPENED THE LOCKS AT FORT MIAKA AND MOOR HAVEN. I HAVE SEEN A ROT OF EVENTS LIKE THIS. I HOPE YOU CAN HEAR ME. IT’S DEAFENING DOWN HERE. A FISHING GUY AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST IMMEDIATELY REALIZED THE IMPACTS THE CORPS DECISION COULD HAVE. YOU’RE LOOKING AT 4.7 BILLION-GALLONS OF WATER COMING FROM LAKE OKEECHOBEE, AND NORTH OF THE LAKE. THIS IS JUST DECIMATING THE ESTUARY AND LOWER INDIAN RIVER LAGOON, THIS MAY BE THE DEATH MILL OF OUR ESTUARY, THE OFFICIALS NEED TO MUST HAVE ON THIS. IT’S BEEN 20 YEARS OF PROMISES. WE NEED HELP RIGHT NOW. FOR MORE THAN 250 DAYS, THE CORE KEPT THE FLOOD GATES OPEN, RELEASING 826 BILLION-GALLONS OF WATER FROM LAKE OKEECHOBEE. IF YOU CAN CONTAIN THE BOUNDARIES THE WATER WOULD RISE ALMOST 71 FEET. NOT LONG AFTER CONNOR’S VIDEO PLEA, THE ALGAE CRISIS BEGAN. THIS PUTRID ALGAE, JUST THE SIGHT OF THIS AL ALGAE IS ENOUGH TO MAKE MANY PEOPLE NAUSEOUS. WE TRACKED IT DOWN THE C44 CANAL, WHICH IS A 25-MILE CANAL. WHEN IT GOT TO OUR ESTUARY, PACKED. RESIDENTIAL CANALS AND IT WENT LIKE THIS. WE DON’T GET TOXIC ALGAE BLOOMS IN OUR ESTUARY UNLESS WE HAVE DISCHARGES. BEACHES CLOSED WHILE SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS THROUGHOUT THE AREA WERE DEVASTATED. THE GOVERNOR DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY, AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OPENED A CENTER TO OFFER LOW INTEREST LOANS TO AREA BUSINESSES. I’M NOT SURE HOW BUSINESSES ARE GOING TO KEEP IT GOING RIGHT NOW. JORDAN SCHWARTZ AT THE OHANA SURF SHOP KNOWS WHERE TO PUT THE BLAME. WE KNOW THE MONEY COMES IN THE POLITICIANS POCKETS AND TO THINK THERE’S AN INDUSTRY THAT’S CAUSING THE POLLUTION THAT NO ONE IS GOING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN PAID. FOR SCHWARTZ AND OTHERS, THAT INDUSTRY IS BIG SUGAR, WHICH IS LONG BEEN BLAMED BY ENVIRONMENTALISTS FOR POLLUTING THE EVERGLADES AND LAKE OKEECHOBEE. PHOSPHOROUS LADEN BETTER FROM SUGAR FIELDS AND FARMS, AS WELL AS THE NEIGHBORING TOWNS WAS BACK PUMPED INTO LAKE OKEECHOBEE. OUR BIG SUGAR HAS CONTRIBUTED TO POLLUTING THE LAKE, IT REMAINS RELATIVELY SMALL COMPARED TO THE PHOSPHOROUS FROM THE NORTH. BECAUSE BIG SUGAR MAKES AN EASY TARGET, THE ALGAE CRISIS BECAME AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS TO PUT AN OLD FOE ON THE DEFENSIVE, TWO SUGAR OPERATIONS, U.S. SUGAR AND FLORIDA CRYSTALS WHO CONTROL 400,000 ACRES OF SUGAR CANE FIELDS IN AN AREA KNOWN AS THE EVERGLADES AGRICULTURAL AREA. 2MILLIONTONS OF SUGAR A YEAR COME OUT OF THE EVERGLADES. THE HISTORY OF THE INDUSTRY IS APPALLING. CARL HYSON IS THE VILLAINS IN HIS NOVEL STRIP TEASE ARE CHARACTERS OF ALFI AND PREPPY, THE CUBAN BROTHERS WHO RUN THE BUSINESS. IT WAS A BRUTAL ATMOSPHERE, BASICALLY OWNED PEOPLE AND RAN THEM UNTIL THEY COULDN’T WORK ANYMORE. EVERY YEAR THE FARMERS TRY TO RECRUIT AMERICAN LABOR. THERE ARE FEW TAKERS. THE JOB IS SIMPLY TOO DEMANDING. MUSCLES ACHE. SWEAT BURNS THE EYES. AND UNTRAINED HANDS BLISTER IN MINUTES. BUT TO WATCH A WEST INDIAN YIELD IS KNIFE IS TO SEE A CENTURY OLD ART. THAT WAS CLEANED UP ONLY BY VIRTUE OF A NUMBER OF LAWSUITS, EXPOSES, THEY WERE SHAMED INTO STOPPING TREATING HUMAN BEINGS THAT WAY. THEY MECHANIZED. WE’RE SUPPOSED TO APPLAUD THEM BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT AS ABUSIVE AS THEY WASN’T WERE. THIS WASN’T THE FIRST ALGAE BLOOM, LAKE OKEECHOBEE DISCHARGE LED TO BLOOMS IN 2006 AND 2013. BUT THERE WAS ONE DIFFERENCE. THIS TIME THE ALGAE BLOOM WAS IN THE HOMETOWN OF THE INCOMING PRESIDENT OF THE FLORIDA SENATE. IT REALLY IS SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE TO SEE AND SMELL TO TAKE IN. AS SENATE PRESIDENT, JOE NEGRON WOULD HAVE ENORMOUS POWER IN THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION IN TALLAHASSEE. I HAVE NEVER SEEN THE OCEAN SHUT DOWN ON AN ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE. WE HAD SCIENCE AT THE BEACH THAT CROW COULDN’T SWIM. IT HAS — YOU COULDN’T SWIM. IT HAD A DEVASTATING EFFECT OF CANCELING HOTEL STAYS, FISHING TOURNAMENTS AND THAT DOESN’T GET INTO THE SMELL, THE PUTRID NATURE OF THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY BEING TURNED INTO A CESSPOOL. ON AUGUST 9, 2016, NEGRON ANNOUNCED HIS SOLUTION TO THE ALGAE PROBLEM. HE DID IT IN FIVE WORDS. WE MUST BUY LAND TO STOP. IT TURNED INTO SENATE BILL 10 WHICH CALLED FOR SPENDING $2.4 BILLION TO BUY 60,000 ACRES OF LAND SOUTH OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE, LAND THAT IS CURRENTLY BEING USED BY SUGAR CANE GROWERS AND VEGETABLE FARMERS. THE LAND WOULD BE TURNED INTO A RESERVOIR WHERE POLLUTED WATER COULD BE SENT SO INSTEAD OF FLUSHING THAT WATER EAST TOWARD STEWART WHERE IT WOULD BECOME AN ALGAE BLOOM, IT WOULD BE DELIVERED SOUTH TO THE NEW RESERVOIR. THE LAKE NEEDS AN OUTLET TO SEND WATER SOUTH. IT NEEDS A RELIEF VALVE. THE ONLY OPTION IS TO OPEN THE GATES ON THE EAST AND WEST SIDE OF OKEECHOBEE, AND BLAST OUT BILLIONS OF GALLONS OF POLLUTED WATER. WE HAVE SPENT $3 BILLION TAXPAYER MONEY TO CREATE KIDNEYS FOR THE EVERGLADES, MANMADE WETLANDS THAT EFFECTIVELY REMOVE THE PHOSPHOROUS AND NITROGEN, THE POLLUTANTS OF THE WATER TO DELIVER CLEAN FRESH WATER THROUGH THE EVERGLADES AND ULTIMATELY DOWN TO THE FLORIDA KEYS. EVEN THOUGH THE 60,000 ACRES REPRESENTS LESS THAN 10% OF THE TOTAL EVERGLADES AGRICULTURAL AREA, THE SUGAR COMPANY BELIEVES IT REPRESENTS ANOTHER LAND GRABBY ENVIRONMENTALISTS TARGETING THEIR INDUSTRY. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY IS? ELIMINATE AGRICULTURE WITHOUT A DOUBT. THE ALGAE BLOOM GAVE ENVIRONMENTALISTS THE CLUB THEY NEEDED AGAINST BIG SUGAR AND DID YOU HAVE THE BAD LUCK OF HAVING AN ALGAE BLOOM CREATED IN THE DISTRICT OF THE INCOMING SENATE PRESIDENT. IT WASN’T OUR LUCK. I WOULD SAY THAT THE BAD LUCK WERE THE PEOPLE THAT HAD TO DEAL WITH THE ALGAE BLOOM. IT BECAME YOUR BAD LUCK IN THAT SENATE PRESIDENT THAT INTRODUCES A BILL TO TAKE LAND FROM YOUR FARMERS. IF IT WASN’T FOR, I MEAN, IF IT WAS ALMOST ANY OTHER DISTRICT, IF JOE NEGRON WAS NOT THE INCOMING SENATE PRESIDENT WHO MADE THIS HIS NUMBER ONE PRIORITY, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE HAD TO SPEND AS MUCH TIME AS YOU DID TRYING TO BATTLE THERE BILL IN TALLAHASSEE. THE ALGAE BLOOM HAPPENED WHERE IT HAPPENED. IF SOMEONE MADE POLITICAL HAY OUT OF THAT, YOU HAVE TO TALK TO THEM ABOUT IT. DO YOU THINK THE SENATE PRESIDENT MADE POLITICAL HAY OUT OF IT? YOU MIGHT WANT TO TALK TO THE SENATE PRESIDENT. YOU KNOW WHO’S VIEW I’M CONCERNED ABOUT, THE HALF MILLION MEN AND WOMEN IN DISTRICT 25 THAT I REPRESENT AND MY OBLIGATION IS TO THEM, MY OBLIGATION IS TO THE ENTIRE STATE. HERE GATOR. MARSHAL JONES GREW UP IN THE EVERGLADES, HIS GREAT GRANDFATHER STARTED THIS FISHING CAMP IN 1973. EVERGLADES HAS SUSTAINED MY FAMILY FOR FIVE GENERATIONS. GROWING UP AS A BOY, THE EVERGLADES WAS MY PLAYGROUND. I’M A FAMILY MAN. I HAVE FOUR AMAZING CHILDREN, AND I WANT THEM TO SEE THE SAME EVERGLADES AS I GREW UP WITH OR BETTER. IF THE START OF 2016 HAD HEAVIER THAN EXPECTED RAINS, THE START OF 2017 WAS FACING A DROUGHT. WHEN THAT HAPPENS, THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE WILDLIFE HERE DIES. THEY HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO FEED ON AND NOTHING LEFT TO SURVIVE IN. JONES TOOK A SPOT WHERE GATORS AND FISH FIND WATER. IT’S NOT JUST THE WILDLIFE EXPECTED. IF THERE’S NO STANDING WATER IN THE RIVER OF GRASS, THE AQUIFER IS NOT REPLENISHED. IN OTHER WORDS, WE CAN ENDANGER OUR OWN DRINKING WATER. IF THERE ISN’T FRESH WATER, THAN SALT WATER FROM THE ATLANTIC AND GULF OF MEXICO WILL PUSH ITS WAY IN. NOT ONLY KILLING THE SEA GRASS AND FISH NURSERIES IN FLORIDA BAY BUT EVENTUALLY WINDING UP IN THE AQUIFER. WHEN THAT HAPPENS, WE HAVE A MAJOR PROBLEM, THE WATER CAN’T BE USED FOR REGULAR TAP WATER, AND IT CAN ALSO NO LONGER BE USED TO WATER LAWNS OR WATER OUR FIELDS TO THE SOUTH. WHILE ENVIRONMENTALISTS BELIEVE SENATE BILL TEN SERVED THE GREATER GOOD OF SAVING THE EVERGLADES, BIG SUGAR CONSIDERED IT A DECLARATION OF WAR. HOW MANY LOBBYISTS DID YOU HAVE ON THAT BILL? WE HAD A FEW. YOU HAD A LOT. WHY SO MANY LOBBYISTS. WHEN SOMEBODY IS TRYING TO PUT YOU OUT OF BUSINESS, YOU’RE GOING TO TRY TO STAY IN BUSINESS, AND YOU’RE GOING TO PUT THE RESOURCES THAT ARE NECESSARY TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN. THE EVERGLADES FOUNDATION HAD A NUMBER OF LOBBYISTS IN TALLAHASSEE, AND THEY WERE TRYING TO TAKE OUR LAND. THEY WERE TRYING TO TAKE LAND OF OUR NEIGHBORS AND FARMERS AND DEVASTATE OUR COMMUNITIES. THE UNITED STATES SUGAR COMPANY HAD 28 REGISTERED LOBBYISTS IN TALLAHASSEE FOR THE 2017 SESSION, AND FLORIDA CRYSTALS, AN ADDITIONAL 30 LOBBYISTS. THE PAST 20 YEARS, WE HAVE GIVEN UP MORE THAN 100,000 ACRES OF SOME OF THE MOST FERTILE, AGRICULTURAL LAND IN THE COUNTRY. THE RESULT OF THAT WAS A CLOSURE OF THREE MILLS. LOSING ANOTHER 60,000 ACRES IN THIS REGION WOULD REQUIRE THE CLOSURE OF ANOTHER MILL. YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THOUSANDS OF JOBS DIRECT AND INDIRECT. LOBBYISTS AREN’T THE ONLY REASON BIG SUGAR IS SO POWERFUL. LAST YEAR, AN ANALYSIS BY THE MIAMI HERALD AND TAMPA BAY TIMES FOUND THAT BETWEEN 1994 AND 2016, THE SUGAR INDUSTRY DONATED $58.8 MILLION IN DIRECT AND ENKIND CONTRIBUTIONS TO STATE AND LOCAL POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS,. YOU SPENT A LOT OF MONEY ON CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS, CORRECT? ABSOLUTELY. AND HOW MUCH INFLUENCE DOES THAT MONEY BUY YOU? ZERO. COME ON, REALLY? IT DOESN’T BUY YOU ANY INFLUENCE. NONE AT ALL. YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE HOW MANY TIMES WE GET A PHONE CALL, SORRY WE CAN’T HELP YOU. IF PEOPLE ARE NAIVE ENOUGH TO THINK THAT DOESN’T BUY YOU ACCESS, YOU DESERVE THE GOVERNMENT YOU GET. IT’S ABOUT BUYING THE SUPPORT TO HAVE POLITICIANS AND IT’S ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. TIME AND AGAIN, THE SUGAR INDUSTRY HAS FOUND POLITICIANS, WILLING TO LOOSEN REGULATIONS AND EASE WATER QUALITY STANDARDS. FOR EXAMPLE, 7 YEARS PAST BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE ENFORCED AN AMENDMENT REQUIRING BIG SURE TO PAY ITS SHARE OF THE BILLIONS IT WOULD TAKE TO CLEAN UP THE EVERGLADES, EVEN STILL, SUGAR’S CONTRIBUTION WOULD BE CAPPED AT A NEAR $25 AN ACRE FOR ABOUT $13 MILLION A YEAR. THIS TIME, HOWEVER, THE MOMENTUM APPEARED TO BE MOVING AGAINST BIG SUGAR. THE BLUE-GREEN ALGAE WAS SEEPING INTO THE CONSCIOUSNESS, REQUIRING THE LEGISLATURE TO ACT. AND HERE’S THE IRONY, WHILE IT LOOKED LIKE BIG SUGAR WAS FINALLY GOING TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR DECADES OF PERCEIVED SINS, THERE’S A GOOD CASE TO BE MADE WHEN IT CAME TO THIS PARTICULAR ALGAE CRISIS. BIG SUGAR WAS RIGHT. THEY WERE BEING TURNED INTO THE SCAPEGOATS. THE WATER THAT GOES INTO THE LAGOON HAS NEVER BEEN ON A SUGAR FARM. IT’S A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS WHEN WE TAKE WHAT WAS A VERY REAL ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE AT LAKE OKEECHOBEE INTO ST. LUCIE AND TRY TO TURN IT INTO A POLITICAL WEAPON AND THAT WAS WHAT WAS DONE. THE SUGAR INDUSTRY CAME TO THE EVERGLADES IN THE 1890s FOR ONE REASON, THE SOIL, THE DEEP BLACK EARTH FARMERS CALLED THE MUCK. THERE’S NOTHING QUITE LIKE IT ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. IT CONSISTS OF THE DECOMPOSED SAW GRASS AND CAT TAILS, MAN GRILLS AND PINE TREES AND WHATEVER ELSE HAS DIED IN THE SWAMPS SINCE THE EVERGLADES WERE FIRST FORMED MORE THAN 4000 YEARS AGO. A FOOT OF MUCK, 12 INCHES OF SOIL CAN TAKE NATURE 500 YEARS TO CREATE. THANKS TO THESE CONDITIONS, A SINGLE 8-FOOT STALK OF SUGAR CANE CAN PRODUCE 3 POUNDS OF SUGAR. WE’RE PROCESSING 26,000 TONS OF SUGAR CANE PER DAY. WE’LL RECOVER ABOUT 3000 TONS OF SUGAR FROM THAT SUGAR CANE WE DRY. SUGAR CANE FARMING IS A MIX OF THE OLD AND NEW. SATELLITE IMAGES ARE USED TO MONITOR THE CROPS WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT. THAT CANE HAS BEEN CORRECTED BY GPS HARVESTERS, GONE ARE THE DAYS WHEN THOUSANDS OF MACHETE MIGRANTS FROM THE CARIBBEAN WOULD CUT THE CANE BY HAND. AT THE MILL IT’S SHREDDED, GROUND AND WASHED UNDER ROLLERS TO SQUEEZE TO SUCROSE. THAT IS BOILED AND DISSOLVED INTO SUGAR GRANULES AND DURING THE HARVEST OPERATES 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK. WE PROBABLY HAVE 60 TO 70% OF EMPLOYEES THAT ARE FROM THE AREA SO WE’RE REALLY SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY AND THE AREA WITH JOBS. FLORIDA CRYSTALS GENERATED $4 BILLION IN REVENUE LAST YEAR. THEY HAVE 2000 EMPLOYEES IN FLORIDA AND 20,000 WORLDWIDE. WE’RE THE LARGEST SUGAR REFINERY IN THE WORLD. WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO REFINE 6 MILLION TONS PER YEAR. IN ADDITION TO THE TENS OF MILLIONS BIG SUGAR SPENDS ON THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVEL, THEIR SPEND AND POLITICAL CLOUT ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL IS WELL ESTABLISHED. OVERALL AS AN INDUSTRY, BIG SUGAR IN THE 2016 ELECTION CYCLE MADE $8 MILLION IN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS TO FEDERAL CANDIDATES AND POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES AND SPENT ANOTHER 21 MILLION ON FEDERAL LOBBYISTS. COMPANIES DO NOT SPEND THAT KIND OF MONEY WITHOUT EXPECTING SOME KIND OF RETURN ON INVESTMENT. DURING THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, HELD A FUNDRAISER FOR HILLARY CLINTON, AND PEPE HELD ONE FOR DONALD TRUMP, AND THE INDUSTRY’S NUMBER ONE GOAL, MAINTAINING THE FEDERAL POLICIES THAT GREATLY BENEFIT THEIR BOTTOM LINE. CONGRESS GUARANTEES THE PRICE FOR A POUND OF SUGAR WILL NEVER DROP BELOW A CERTAIN THRESHOLD, PROVIDES BIG SUGAR WITH LOW INTEREST LOANS AND SEVERELY LIMITS THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR OTHER COUNTRIES CAN SELL IN THE UNITED STATES. THIS IS MONEY BEING SPENT OSTEO — TO SHAPE U.S. POLICY. AS THE 2017 LEGISLATION GOT UNDERWAY, THE CRISIS REVERBERATED THROUGH THE HALLS OF TALLAHASSEE. FIVE MONTHS EARLY, JOE NEGRON WOULD PUSH TO BUY GROUND. THE DAMAGE DONE TO THE ST. LUCIE RIVER AND THE SOUTHERN INDIAN RIVER LAGOON IS BEYOND COMPREHENSION. IN FACT IT’S CRIMINAL. I MYSELF HAD TO CLOSE MY BUSINESS. WHAT I CAN TELL YOU IS WHEN THE GATES OPEN, THE RIVER DIES. MY CHURCH HAS BEEN BAPTIZING IN THAT RIVER FOR 105 YEARS. I AM THE STATE PASTOR, AND WILL BE THE FIRST ONE WHO’S NOT ALLOWED TO DO THIS. ONE AFTER ANOTHER, PEOPLE FROM AS FAR AWAY AS ALMARADA GOT UP TO TALK ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE BLUE-GREEN ALGAE. I LEFT WITH MY KIDS AND WENT TO CINCINNATI WITH FAMILY BECAUSE YOU COULDN’T WALK OUTSIDE OF OUR HOUSE WITHOUT GAGGING IT SMELLED SO BAD. SHE HAD BREATHING ISSUES AND I WAS JUST AFRAID TO HAVE MY DAUGHTER THERE. THAT’S ONE OF THE REASONS THIS NEEDS TO BE RESOLVED. THANK YOU. WE KNOW THAT TOXINS AND BLUE- GREEN ALGAE CAN BE ABSORBED IN YOUR BLOODSTREAM AND GIVE YOU PROBLEMS. DR. STEPHEN PAR IS THE DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE FOR MARTIN HEALTH SYSTEMS WHICH RUNS THREE HOSPITALS IN THE TREASURE COVERS. THERE ONGOING STUDIES STUDYING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BLUE-GREEN ALGAE TOXIN, AND NEUROLOGICAL DISEASES IN ALZHEIMER’S. THEY ARE AT GREATER RISK OF HEART ATTACKS, WE HAD 50% INCREASE IN HEART ATTACKS FROM 2015 TO 2016. THAT’S PRETTY STRONG, AT LEAST CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE. EMOTIONS WERE JUST AS HIGH AS THOSE FROM THE GLADES COMMUNITIES. I CAN’T LIVE WITH TAKING OF JOBS. THAT’S THE ONLY WAY THEY KNOW HOW TO LIVE IS WORK THE FARMLAND AND PROVIDE FOR THE NATION. BUYING THAT LAND WILL NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM THAT WE HAVE BEFORE US. SO WHEN YOU’RE CONSIDERING ALL THESE THINGS WE WANT YOU TO REMEMBER THERE ARE PEOPLE, NOT FISH, NOT OTHER THINGS, BUT THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN THESE COMMUNITIES THAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. I CAN’T FOR THE LIFE OF ME UNDERSTAND ANY MEMBER LET ALONE THE SENATE PRESIDENT WOULD BE PUSHING FOR A BILL THAT WOULD CAUSE SO MUCH ECONOMIC DEVASTATION. IF THIS BILL GOES THROUGH. ALL THE FOCUS HAS BEEN ON BIG SUGAR. THE EVERGLADES AGRICULTURAL AREA. MY NAME IS JOHN LLOYD HUNTLEY, MY FAMILY OWNS HUNTLEY FARMS. HUNTLEY FARMS GROWS CORN AND OTHER VEGETABLES, IF YOU WANT TO GET A SENSE OF WHERE THE FARMLAND SITS, GO BACK TO SENATOR JOE NEGRON’S, AND LOOK AT THE RED CIRCLES ON THE MAP AND WHERE HE WANTS TO BUILD A RESERVOIR. WE ARE NOT SELLERS TO A GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY. WE CAUGHT UP WITH HUNTLEY’S SON ON HIS FARM IN BELGRADE AFTER THE HEARING. THE FARMING IS IN MY BLOOD. IT’S WHAT I GET UP EXCITED ABOUT. I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ELSE. I JUST LIKE TO FEED PEOPLE. EVERGLADES IS THE CAPITOL OF THE COUNTRY BETWEEN NOVEMBER AND THE END OF MAY, IF YOU ATE AN EAR OF CORN IN THE UNITED STATES, THERE’S A BETTER THAN 90% CHANCE IT WAS GROWN HERE. ALL OF THE LETTUCE EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI IS GROWN IN THE EVERGLADES. HUNTLEY SHOWED THE GREEN BEANS FIELDS. JUST A COUPLE WEEKS AGO THIS WAS IN SUGAR CANE. THIS WAS ALL SUGAR CANE TWO WEEKS AGO. IT HAS BEEN ROTATED OUT, PART OF THE ROTATIONAL PROGRAM. WHERE WE PUT VEGETABLES IN BEHIND THAT, AND RICE WILL BE PLANTED BEHIND THE VEGETABLES. THIS SOIL IS BEING CONDITIONED AND PRESERVED OVER A COURSE OF 365 DAYS WITH MULTIPLE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CROPS. ON A DAILY BASIS, WE HAVE ANYWHERE FROM TEN TO FIFTEEN DIFFERENT HARVEST CREWS. EACH CREW CAN BE 30 PEOPLE PER CREW. MOST OF THE LABOR TENDS TO BE HIS — HISPANIC. HE ALSO MADE THE TRIP TO TALLAHASSEE. THIS LAND GRAB IS NOT ONLY A JOB KILLER. IT’S A COMMUNITY KILLER AND INDUSTRY KILLER. OUR BUSINESS IS GROWING. AS THIS LAND IS TAKEN AWAY, IT GETS HARDER TO EXPAND, WE’RE ALSO CONCERNED OUR LAND MAY BE TAKEN AWAY AND WE POSSIBLY JUST GO AWAY. THIS IS CBS REPORTS, HARVEST OF SHAME. IT HAS TO DO WITH THE MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO HARVEST THE CROPS OF THE COUNTRY OF OURS. IN 1960, EDWARD R MURROW PRESENTED HIS GROUND BREAKING DOCUMENTARY ON THE COUNTRY’S MIGRANT FARM WORKERS. THESE ARE THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE, THE UNDERPROTECTED, RT UNDEREDUCATED, UNDERCLOTHED, THE UNDER FED. THE DOCUMENTARY OPENED RIGHT HERE. AND IT TOOK YOU INSIDE FEW HAD SEEN. A THIS IS A SHAPE UP FOR MIGRANT WORKERS. THESE ARE THE VARIOUS FIELDS. LITTLE HAS CHANGED IN THESE YEARS. BY 4:00 A.M., THE ON THE GROUND RAMP WAS — ROADING RAMP WAS FULL OF BUSS AND PEOPLE — BUSES AND PEOPLE. THAT’S ALL IT IS. I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS SINCE 2008. WE FOLLOWED AS ONE BUS LOAD OF PEOPLE MADE IT TO THE FIELD IN AN HOUR OF SUNRISE. TYPICALLY A PERSON COULD MAKE A HUNDRED DOLLARS A DAY WITH THE HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE AREA, WE FOUND MORE LOCALS WILLING TO WORK IN THE FIELDS. JAZZ JUST TURNED 18, WHICH IS GOING TO BE HER FIRST DAY IN THE FIELD. IT MAKES YOU STRIVE FOR BETTER. WHATEVER YOU CAN PUT YOUR MIND TO. ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO. THE AREA IS ALSO KNOWN AS A STEPPING GROUND FOR TOP FLIGHT NFL PLAYERS. MORE THAN 50 HAVE EMERGED FROM THE MUCK AND PLAYED IN THE NFL, INCLUDING SUPER BOWL MVP SANTONIO HOLMES, RUNNING BACK FRED TAYLOR, AND THE 2015 WALTER PEYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR, ANQUAN BOLDIN. THIS IS A PLACE WITH NOT A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY BUT WE MAKE THE MOST OUT OF WHAT WE HAVE. THE AMOUNT OF TALENT THAT’S HERE IS UNBELIEVABLE. LIKE I SAID, I’M NOT JUST TALKING ABOUT SPORTS. THE FOUNDATION RAISES MONEY FOR THE COMMUNITY. WE ALWAYS CONSIDER THIS A FORGOTTEN PART OF PALM BEACH COUNTY. THAT’S WHY I’M HERE. PEOPLE OUT HERE, THEY NEED HELP. THEY DESERVE OPPORTUNITIES. MORE THAN A THIRD OF THE POPULATION IN BELGRADE, AND SOUTH BAY, LIVE BELOW THE POVERTY LINE. THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS NEARLY 5 TIMES HIGHER THAN THE STATE AVERAGE. THEY HAD A MURDER RATE FOUR TIMES HIGHER THAN THE CITY OF MIAMI. IF THEY END UP COMING IN AND TAKING A PHONE LINE OUT OF SERVICE. WHAT’S IT GOING TO DO TO AN AREA LIKE THIS. WE HAVE MAJOR PROBLEMS, ECONOMICALLY AS WELL AS SOCIALLY IN THIS COMMUNITY. WE DROVE A FEW BLOCKS FROM THE LOADING RAMP SO JACKSON MOORE COULD SHOW US WHAT WAS DOWNTOWN BELGRADE. AT ONE TIME, ALL OF THESE BUILDINGS CONTAIN A BUSINESS, SEVERAL BUSINESS, A DRESS SHOP, HARDWARE STORES, AND NOW YOU SEE ALL OF IT IS CLOSED UP. THIS AREA IS STRUGGLING FINANCIALLY, ECONOMICALLY, AND WE’RE TRYING TO BUILD AND BRING BACK BUSINESSES TO THIS PARTICULAR COMMUNITY BUT IT’S EXTREMELY HARD WHEN THERE’S ALL THIS CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS POTENTIAL LAND GRAB AND HOW WE’RE GOING TO BE LOSING 4000 JOBS. HOW CAN A BUSINESS SAY I’M GOING TO INVEST IN YOUR COMMUNITY WHEN PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE WITHOUT WORK AND NOT SUPPORT THE BUSINESS. EVERY SHORE FRONT OFFERS A DIFFERENT TALE OF LOST HOPE. WHAT STORE? THE WEEK STORE. THE NEWS GETS WORSE. THE DAY BEFORE THE BANKS FORECLOSED ON HIS HOME AND HE HAD TO MOVE OUT. THOSE WHO STILL HAVE BUSINESSES ON THE BLOCK WONDER HOW LONG THEY CAN LAST. THERE’S NO MONEY, THERE’S NO MONEY CIRCULATING IN THE AREA. IT’S ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE. MORE BREAK-INS, SHOOTINGS, ROBBERIES GOING TO HAPPEN. THAT’S HOW IT IS HERE, WE NEED JOBS. ♪ HE IS GREAT, HE’S A GREAT GOD. HE’S A GREAT GOD. ♪ ♪ TEN YEARS AGO, THE EASTER SERVICE AT THE ST. JOHN MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH IN BELGRADE WOULD HAVE BEEN PACKED. THIS YEAR’S SERVICE SAW THE CHURCH HALF EMPTY. I WOULD SAY CLOSE TO A HUNDRED MEMBERS OF THEM HAD MOVED TO THE COAST FOR JOBS. PASTOR ROBERT REESE LEADS CHURCH AS A MEMBER OF THE LOCAL MINISTERIAL ALLIANCE. AGAIN, I SAY THAT ALL THE TIME. THE EMOTIONS AND FEARS EXPRESSED BY GLADES RESIDENTS WERE REAL, THEY ALSO OFFERED BIG SUGAR AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEFLECT ATTENTION AWAY FROM THEMSELVES, RATHER THAN A BATTLE PITTING GOOD HEARTED ENVIRONMENTALISTS, IT COULD BE SEEN INSTEAD AS A FIGHT BETWEEN THOSE WHO LIVE ALONG THE TONY TREASURED COAST VERSUS THOSE IN STRUGGLING MINORITY COMMUNITIES. DO YOU PROVIDE FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THEM. WE DON’T. YOU DIDN’T PROVIDE ANY IN- KIND SUPPORT? DID I TELL THOSE PEOPLE MY PRAYERS AND SUPPORT WERE WITH THEM, THE WHOLE COMMUNITY DID. DID YOU PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION. WE DID NOT PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION. DID YOU HELP SET UP MEETINGS WITH LAWMAKERS. THEY SET UP THEIR OWN MEETINGS. IT ISOFFENSIVE TO ME AS A RESIDENT OF THE GLADES THAT PEOPLE THINK THE PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITIES ARE NOT CAPABLE OF GOING AND SPEAKING TO THEIR LEGISLATURES. THEY’RE NOT CAPABLE OF TRAVEL TO GO TALLAHASSEE ON THEIR OWN WITHOUT SOMEBODY MAKING SOME BIG ARRANGEMENT FOR THEM. THAT’S CONDESCENDING. WE DO HAVE SOME SUPPORT FROM THE SUGAR INDUSTRY. WHILE SUGAR DOES NOT PROVIDE THEM CASH. THEY HAVE MATERIALS. SHE SAID OTHER BUSINESS INTERESTS, WHO SHE DECLINED TO IDENTIFY ARRANGED TRAVEL FOR FOLKS FROM THE GLADES TO GO TO TALLAHASSEE, AND SHE SAID THEY RECEIVED HELP GETTING MEETINGS WITH LEGISLATURES. WHAT IS GREAT THAT THEY HAVE DONE FOR US IS ALLOW US THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH PEOPLE THEY MAY ASSOCIATE WITH ON A DAILY BASIS. THEY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO OPEN THAT DOOR FOR US, AND IT HAS BEEN A GOOD RELATIONSHIP THUS FAR. DO WE FEEL USED, NO, BECAUSE AGAIN, THESE ARE OUR JOBS. AND IF WE LOSE THOSE JOBS, WE HAVE NO JOBS. BIG SUGAR ISN’T THE ONLY ONE PLAYING POLITICS, THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND NEGRON’S PROPOSAL IS THE EVERGLADES FOUNDATION. HUEY AS THEY SAY. NOT TRUE. WE DON’T PROFIT OFF OF THIS. WE DON’T PROFIT OUT OF RESTORED EVERGLADES. THEY WIELD THEIR OWN CLOUT IN TALLAHASSEE, THE GROUP’S FOUNDER AND LARGEST FINANCIAL SUPPORTER IS PAUL TUTER JONES, A PHYSICAL BILLIONAIRE, WITH 8 REGISTERED TO THE EVERGLADES FOUNDATION ALONE. PEOPLE ARE FRUSTRATED, ANGRY, THEY WANT A SOLUTION. FOR IKEENBERG, THAT SOLUTION REMAINS. SEND THE WATER FROM LAKE OKEECHOBEE SOUTH. IT HAS BEEN THE DEFINING QUESTION BEHIND EVERGLADES RESTORATION FOR DECADES. IT WAS 70 YEARS AGO IN 1947 THAT MARJORIE DOUGLAS. IN 1989, ABC NEWS MADE HER THEIR PERSON OF THE WEEK, NOTING THEY WERE STILL WORKING TO SAVE THE EVERGLADES AT THE AGE OF 98. THE FUTURE OF THE EVERGLADES IS SOMETHING THAT WE ALL HAVE TO WORK FOR AND GUARANTEE, KISSIMMEE, OKEECHOBEE, EVERGLADES BASIN HAS MAINTAINED. OTHERWISE THE WHOLE COUNTRY WILL GO TO THE DICKINS. DOUGLAS WHO LIVED TO BE 108 REDEFINES THE PUBLIC’S VIEW OF THE EVERGLADES. IN 1956, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED DEVOTED THE COVER TO THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES AND FOR THE LAST 40 YEARS, CLYDE BUTCHER’S BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE SPREAD THE BEAUTY OF THE EVERGLADES AROUND THE WORLD. SO DO THE ACTIONS OF THE POLITICIANS. WE KNEW THERE WAS A LOT OF LAND ACQUISITION TO SAVE THE EVERGLADES AND OUR FIRST GOAL WAS TO DEVELOP A BUFFER ZONE AROUND THE EVERGLADES TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF DEVELOPMENT WHICH HAD BEEN IMPINGING ON THE EVERGLADES. BUYING AND CONTROLLING LAND HAS ALWAYS BEEN SEEN AS THE KEY TO PROTECTING THE EVERGLADES AND AS SENATE PRESIDENT NEGRON WOULD DISCOVER, IT WAS ALSO THE MOST CONTENTIOUS. THE 2016 ALGAE CRISIS HIGHLIGHTED ANOTHER PROBLEM. WHAT STARTED IN THE 70s IS STILL TAKING PLACE TODAY. I GREW UP HUNTING AND FISHING AND CAMPING IN THE EVERGLADES. WHILE SERVING IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE BETWEEN 1980 AND 1988 DEXTER REYDEN MADE SAVING THE EVERGLADES ONE OF HIS HIGHEST PRIORITIES AND THAT’S WHEN THEY CAME TO A TROUBLING DISCOVERY. AND WE CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE LAWS ARE ALREADY THERE. THE REAL PROBLEM WAS THAT THEY WEREN’T BEING ENFORCED. I WAS SHOCKED, REALLY, TO FIND THE EASE WITH WHICH REGULATORY AGENCIES CAN SIMPLY IGNORE THE LAW. THERE’S NO CONSEQUENCE TO THEIR IGNORING THE LAW, USUALLY, SO THEY JUST IGNORE IT. HISTORICALLY THERE HAVE BEEN VARIOUS SPECIAL INTERESTS RESPONSIBLE FROM KEEPING THE STATE FROM ENFORCING THE LAWS. SUGAR IS A CAUSE, THE BIGGEST CAUSE, NOT THE ONLY, BUT NO PRIVATE ENTERPRISE IS GOING TO INCREASE THE COST OF PRODUCTION UNLESS THE GOVERNMENT IMPOSES REGULATIONS. SO THE REAL BOGGY MAN IS THE GOVERNMENT AND THE WATERMEN IN THE DISTRICT FOR NOT DOING ITS JOB. IN 1988 PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN APPOINTED REYDEN, NOW HAVING THE CLOUT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE EVERGLADES, HE BEGAN DRAFTS A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE STATE OF FLORIDA FOR FAILING TO ENFORCE ITS OWN LAWS. THE STATE’S NEGLIGENCE, HE WOULD ARGUE, ALLOWED FEDERAL LANDS, INCLUDING EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK TO BECOME POLLUTED. WORRIED ABOUT POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM BIG SUGAR, HE SAYS HE KEPT THE PLANS A SECRET FROM HIS BOSSES IN WASHINGTON. WHEN I FILED IN EARLY OBSERVING, I GOT AN IMMEDIATE CALL AND ORDERED TO COME IMMEDIATELY TO THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. HE FLEW TO WASHINGTON WHERE HE SAID HE WAS HAULED INTO A LARGE CONFERENCE ROOM FILLED WITH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS. SO I WENT INTO THE MEETING, AND THEY SAID WITHDRAW THE LAWSUIT. YOU KNOW, I GOT WOUNDED IN VIETNAM, AND THERE’S NO HEROIC MESSAGE THERE EXCEPT THAT, YOU KNOW I HAVE BEEN TO THE MOUNTAIN TOP AND A BUNCH OF SUBORDINATE PEOPLE IN THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT DON’T OVERLY IMPRESS ME. I SAID, WELL, LOOK, I KNOW ONE THING, THE PRESIDENT CAN ORDER ME TO WITHDRAW IT AND PROBABLY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, ALTHOUGH THE LAWS ARE NOT CLEAR ABOUT THAT. BUT I KNOW THIS ABOUT YOU GUYS IN THIS ROOM, NONE OF YOU HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO ORDER ME TO WITHDRAW THE LAWSUIT, SO I’LL TELL YOU WHAT I’LL DO, YOU GET THE PRESIDENT OR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO ORDER IT WITHDRAWN IN WRITING, AND I’LL WITHDRAW IT. BUT I RECOMMEND THAT YOU TALK TO THE VICE PRESIDENT FIRST BECAUSE HE’S BEATING IN TV ADS, GO HOME, WATCH A TV AD, MICHAEL DUKAKIS IS LETTING, WHILE YOU ARE ORDERING A POLLUTION LAWSUIT TO BE WITHDRAWN. THE THREAT WORKED AND WASHINGTON BACKED DOWN. I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY PERFORM THE DUTIES OF GOVERNOR. IN 1991, CHILDS WAS SWORN IN AS GOVERNOR AND MADE A SURPRISE APPEARANCE IN FEDERAL COURT FOR ONE OF THE HEARINGS ON THE LAWSUIT. HE GOES TO THE PODIUM, AND HE SAYS THAT THEY’RE WILLING TO NEGOTIATE WHO DO I GIVE MY SWORD TO. THAT LINE, WHO DO I GIVE MY SWORD TO, SIGNALED THE STATE WAS SURRENDERING, SINCE THAT DAY IN 1991, THAT SWORD HAS BEEN HELD BY A SERIES OF FEDERAL JUDGES WHO ENFORCE A SETTLEMENT THAT WOULD DRASTICALLY LOWER THE AMOUNT OF PHOSPHOROUS REACHING EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK. WE ARE CLEANING EVERY DROP OF WATER THAT COMES ON THE FARM. IN 1994, THE STATE PASSED THE EVERGLADES FOREVER ACT, REQUIRING FARMERS TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF PHOSPHOROUS COMING OFF THEIR FARMS BY 25%. THE EVERGLADES HAVE BEEN SAVED. WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING IS HAVING A CELEBRATION OF THE INCREDIBLE SUCCESS STORY OF WHAT EVERGLADES RESTORATION HAS BEEN. THE WATER COMING OFF THE FIELDS IS CLEANER THAN IT WAS 25, 30 YEARS AGO, CERTAINLY THAN WHEN I WAS A KID. THEY HAVE BEEN DRAGGED KICKING AND SCREAMING INTO EVERY REFORM THAT THEY HAVE HAD TO DO WITHOUT OVERSIGHT, WITHOUT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN PARTICULAR IT WOULD STILL BE JUST AS BAD AS IT EVER WAS. WHAT IS HARDER, RESTORING THE EVERGLADES OR THE POLITICS OF RESTORING THE EVERGLADE. JEB BUSH LEARNED THIS WHEN HE RAN FOR GOVERNOR IN 1994. YOU WERE SEEN AS A DEVELOPER. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE THAT THE EVERGLADES WAS SOMETHING BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T HAVE A HISTORY. THAT’S RIGHT. IN THE 98 CAMPAIGN, I DO A LOT OF WANDERING AROUND, AND LISTENING. THIS WAS AN ISSUE THAT CAME UP A LOT, AND MY ATTITUDE ABOUT THIS WAS, I’M KIND OF NERDY ABOUT THESE THINGS, I GOT INTO THE OFFICE. I’M NOT AN ENGINEER. I WASN’T A CIVIL ENGINEER OR HYDROLOGIST BUT I LEARNED ABOUT THIS STUFF AND THERE ARE SOLUTIONS TO THE CHALLENGES WE FACE. WHEN IT GETS INTO THE POLITICAL REALM WHERE POLITICIANS GET IN FRONT OF CAMERAS AND HAVE PHOTO OPS, IT’S BEAUTIFUL, GREAT PICTURES, PANORAMIC VIEWS OF SANGRIAS, WHAT I’M PROUD OF — VIEWS OF SAW GRASS. WHAT I’M PROUD OF IS WE TRIED TO BUILD CONSENSUS. SOME OF THE PHOTO OPS WERE PEOPLE THAT NEVER SPOKE TO ONE ANOTHER EXCEPT WHEN THEY CAME TO THE BILL SIGN. IN DECEMBER OF 2000, A LANDMARK AGREEMENT KNOWN AS THE COMPREHENSIVE EVERGLADES PLAN. THE BILL WAS SIGNED IN THE OVAL OFFICE WITH PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, AND ON THE SAME DAY THE SUPREME COURT ENDED THE RECOUNT IN FLORIDA, ENSURING GEORGE BUSH WOULD BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. IT WAS PRETTY AMAZING, THEN I WALKED OUT AND OF COURSE NO ONE WANTED TO TALK ABOUT SUR P, THEY WANTED TO TALK ABOUT THE ELECTION. WHEN YOU HAD BUSH AND CLINTON AND EVERYONE PUSHING, IT WASN’T LET’S GO SAVE THE ALLIGATORS, THEY DIDN’T GIVE A RAT’S BUTT ABOUT THAT. IT WAS THE CRIMP IT WOULD PUT IN THE MACHINERY OF DEVELOPMENT. IF YOU CAN’T TURN ON A FAUCET AND EXPECT CLEAN WATER, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM OPENING A BUSINESS. YOU HAVE A PROBLEM STARTING A MUNICIPALITY. THAT’S WHAT GOT THEIR ATTENTION, THE MONEY, AND IT’S ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. THE PLAN CALLED FOR A 50/50 PARTNERSHIP IN PAYING FOR THE RESTORATION WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. DIDN’T WORK OUT THAT WAY. WHICH IS DISAPPOINTING. DESPITE HIS BROTHER BEING PRESIDENT, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FAILED TO FUND THEIR SIDE OF THE DEAL. IN WASHINGTON, HE WAS SUPPORTIVE, BUT CONGRESS DIDN’T DELIVER AND SO I’M NOT IN THE BLAME GAME HERE. RATHER THAN WAIT FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PUT UP ITS SHARE, BUSH PUSHED THE LEGISLATURE TO START SPENDING MONEY IMMEDIATELY. THEY LAID OUT A COMPLEX MATRIX OF PLANS AND DATES, BUT WHEN CHARLIE CRIST CAME INTO OFFICE IN 2006, EVERYTHING GROUND TO A HALT. CRIST HAD HIS OWN PLAN. AND YOU KNOW, KIND OF CAME UP WITH THE IDEA, FROM THE RIVER GRASS, THE BOOK, THE ONLY WAY WE’RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO PROTECT IT, SHE SAID, MARJORIE DOUGLAS IS TO BUY IT. IT’S IN THE BOOK. I’M PARAPHRASING A LITTLE BIT. IT’S PROBABLY NOT A PERFECT QUOTE BUT CLOSE ENOUGH. YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THE U.S. SUGAR DEAL. I AM, YES, SIR. I CAN ENVISION NO BETTER GIFT TO THE EVERGLADES, THE PEOPLE OF FLORIDA, AND THE PLANET TO PLACE IN PUBLIC OWNERSHIP THE MISSING LINK WHICH REPRESENTS THE KEY TO TRUE RESTORATION. IN 2008, WITH THE EVERGLADES AS HIS BACKDROP, CHRIS ANNOUNCED PLANS TO BUY SUGAR’S LAND, MILLS AND BUILDINGS. GOVERNOR CRIST HAS A VISION TO LOOK MORE DEEPLY THAN THE PRIOR FOUR GOVERNORS AND TO SEE THE THIS PROBLEM AS NEEDING A MORE FUNDAMENTAL, SYSTEMIC SOLUTION AND MORE IMPORTANTLY THAN THAT VISION, THOUGH, HE HAD THE COURAGE TO ACT ON IT. CHARLIE CRIST DID THIS FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES RATHER THAN FOR THE EVERGLADES. WHO’S IDEA WAS IT, YOU APPROACHING THEM OR DID THEY APPROACH THE GOVERNMENT? IT WAS IN CONCERT, AND IT DOESN’T MATTER. THE GOOD THING IS IT HAPPENED. GOD CREATED IT. WE CALL HIM THE CREATOR. WHAT BETTER WAY TO TRY TO GET BACK TO HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN UTILIZED FOR FILTERING THE WATER. HAVING THE WATER FLOW SOUTH AND THE WAY GOD DID IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. U.S. SUGAR SAID IT WAS CRIST’S IDEA. GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST HAD A GRAND VISION TO BUY EVERYTHING THAT WE HAD INCLUDING THE PASTRAMI SANDWICH, HALF EATEN IN THE REFRIDGE — REFRIGERATOR. THE SKATE SCALED BACK ITS PLANS BUYING 27,000 ACRES. IN 2010, CRIST LOST THAT RACE FOR SENATE. BUT MORE IMPORTANT, THE RESTORATION PLANS WHICH HAD BEEN STALLED FOR FOUR YEARS HAD TO BE RESTARTED. THAT PATH SHOULD HAVE BEEN KEPT AND HAD IT BEEN KEPT, WE WOULD BE ON THE SECOND PHASE OF THIS, AND THAT’S THE TRAGEDY, IT DELAYED ALL OF THIS FOR A PHOTO OP. HE’S MY JUDGE NOW. ALL I WAS TRYING TO DO WAS AS I SAID EARLIER, DO WHAT GOD INTENDED FOR THAT PART OF OUR STATE THAT I LOVE AND IF THAT’S A BAD THING AND POLITICALLY MOTIVATED BY FRIEND MR. BUSH IS WRONG. AS BUSH BLAMES CRIST, CRIST BLAMES HIS SUCCESSOR, RICK SCOTT. THERE WILL BILLION A SUCCESSOR TO HIM SOON, AND MAYBE WE CAN GET BACK AT IT AGAIN. THE PEOPLE OF FLORIDA ELECTED ME TO GET THE STATE BACK TO WORK, AND I BELIEVE IN THIS MISSION. WHEN RICK SCOTT CAME INTO OFFICE, HE SLASHED THE BUDGET FOR THE SOUTH QUARTER WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT ELIMINATING MORE THAN 300 POSITIONS INCLUDING RESEARCHERS AND SCIENTISTS, GOVERNOR SCOTT DECLINED OUR REQUEST FOR AN INTERVIEW. GOVERNMENT IS BASICALLY TOOTHLESS, AND THEY’RE ACTUALLY IN THE CASE OF THE WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT ACTING AS A MOUTHPIECE FOR THE INDUSTRY THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE MONITORING. WHEN SCOTT FIRST RAN FOR GOVERNOR, HE ATTACKED HIS REPUBLICAN PRIMARY OPPONENT FOR TAKING MONEY FROM THE SUGAR INDUSTRY. WE WERE BLASTING HIM FOR TAKE BIG SUGAR’S MONEY. AND NOW, NO ONE GETS MORE THAN RICK SCOTT. AS SENATE BILL TEN MOVED THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE, SENATE PRESIDENT JOE NEGRON WAS FEELING THE HEAT. BLACK LEGISLATURES BEGAN RALLYING AGAINST THE BILL. NEGRON FOUND OPPOSITION FROM SENATOR MARCO RUBIO WHO SAID THE PLAN COULD ENDANGER FUNDING FOR OTHER EVERGLADES PROJECTS. IF WE DON’T FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME, WE’LL GET NOTHING. HALFWAY THROUGH THE SESSION, NEGRON REWROTE SENATE BILL TEN SCALING BACK THE PRICE AND ABANDONING HIS CALL FOR 60,000 ACRES OF FARMLAND. INSTEAD, HE WOULD USE EXISTING STATE OWNED LAND. YOU HAD TOUCAN THE FOOTPRINT — HAD TO CHANGE THE FOOTPRINT BECAUSE SUGAR WAS OVERWHELMINGLY AGAINST YOU. IT’S HARD TO DO ANYTHING THAT’S GOING TO AFFECT AGRICULTURE: AND IF THIS WAS EASY, I WOULDN’T HAVE TAKEN IT ON. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DONE. THE BILL FAILED TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF SEPTIC TANKS. HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT’S NOT A MAJOR FACTOR. IT IS AN EXACERBATING FACTOR BUT MANGE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, THE ALGAE BLOOM WAS NOT CAUSED BY SEPTIC TANKS, IT WASN’T CAUSED BY ANYTHING OTHER THAN A MASSIVE CONTINUOUS, DAY AFTER DAY, 24 HOUR A DAY, DISCHARGE OF BILLIONS OF GALLONS OF PHOSPHOROUS AND NITROGEN LADEN WATER INTO OUR COMMUNITY. IN MAY, THE SENATE AND HOUSE APPROVED THE NEW VERSION OF NEGRON’S BILL. HISTORY WILL RECORD THAT THIS LEGISLATURE FINALLY TOOK ON THAT VERY VERY DIFFICULT ISSUE. AND SOMEHOW LOST ALONG THE WAY DURING THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION, THE VERY ISSUE THAT CREATED LAST YEAR’S TOXIC ALGAE CRISIS, THE CONTAMINATION OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE. YOU HAVE BIG AGRICULTURE TO THE NORTH OF THE LAKE THAT NEVER SEEMED TO BE TARGETED, LIKE SUGAR GUYS. THERE HAS TO BE MORE DEBATE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING NORTH OF THE LAKE. 500 TONS OF PHOSPHOROUS POURING INTO THE LAKE EVERY YEAR FROM THE NORTH, AND LITTLE BEING DONE ABOUT IT. IF IN FACT THERE’S A HURRICANE OF SIGNIFICANT PROPORTIONS, THERE WILL BE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES ARE DESTROYED BECAUSE THAT DIKE MAY BREACH. IT IS THAT DANGEROUS. LET’S GO AHEAD AND FIX THE DAMN DIKE. DO AS THE LEGISLATIVE BODY IS BRING BACK SEPTIC TANK INSPECTIONS. THEY WERE TAKEN AWAY AND THE REALTOR SUPPORTED IT, AND THE CHAMBER SUPPORTED IT, AND IT WAS SUPPOSEDLY BAD FOR BUSINESS, AND WHAT ELSE IT WAS BAD FOR IS IT WAS BAD FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT. WE WATCHED THIS BLUE-GREEN ALGAE SINK TO THE BOTTOM AND FORM A MUCK ON THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER. WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES OF THAT. WHAT IS THE EFFECT TEN YEARS FROM NOW? NO ONE KNOWS. BUT I’M PRETTY SURE IT’S NOT GOING TO BE GOOD. THINGS ARE GOING TO GET BETTER. DAYS ARE GOING TO GET BETTER, AND I’M JUST LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT DAY.




Comments
  1. Y'all want to put the fucking blame on the EAA cause we bringing in more bag than anyone around this motherfucking lake… and not even share the blame but fuck y'all… Y'all dumb bitches are gonna skip over the fact that Okeechobee is #1 rank in florida for cattle!!! To earn the #1 spot you have to have lots of cattle that takes alot of shit… I personally seen cows just relaxing and shitting in the little canals that run through these properties straight to lake Okeechobee and no one gives a shit… The state would rather spend money to guard the cow shit by having a helicopter fly over these properties to look for junkies trying to harvest mushrooms for shroom tea…

  2. Belle Glade and Clewiston, the two poorest and most miserable communities in the United States. Goes to show how well they take care of their employees.

  3. Inland South Florida is the poorest area with the worst living conditions in the country, thanks to the "great jobs" the agriculture industry has created. If this area was devoted to residential, parks ect, than this area would be like the rest of Florida. Those community leaders are overseeing the most shameful towns in the county, explain to me why other rural areas in Florida have normal conditions, like the rest of the country while South Florida rural is in extreme poverty? Simple fact, if this industry paid well, there would not be so much poverty here. The poverty and desolate decay of this area is due to the "employment" these industries have created, combined with the fact that it takes thousands of acres of land to employee just a few people.

  4. This report is excellent. However, we need to acknowledge our own local communitites contribute to this pollution. There are 2-3 sewage spills reported by FDEP EVERY DAY. That is 1,000+ sewage spills a year – all across our state. Add to that the tragic MOSAIC sinkhole collapse in 2016 that caused 214K gallons of toxic, radioactive liquid to spew into our aquifer. The settlement of that case can never restore the damage that has been done. We ALL need to become activists. We all need to reach out to our local commissioners and municipal council members to insist on better funding and management of wastewater. Local communities need to fight phosphate industries that try to move into rural communities, take them over, and ruin the earth while poisoning the water and people that live in those communities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *