Governor Rick Scott and the other three cabinet members (all Republicans) gave sugar companies approval to the long-term lease of critical Everglades lands despite opposition from environmentalists. Sugar has been rewarded for large contributions to both parties over the years. On this site, I have repeatedly editorialized against the industry only to see comments from our readers saying Sugar isn’t that bad because they give money to Democrats. I am embarrassed that some progressives seem to feel serial polluters are okay if they give money to Democrats.
With the Everglades ecosystem under assault the water supply, ecosystem and economy of southern Florida covering an area with almost eight million people could be untenable within a few decades. Yet Florida’s leading elected officials continue to kick the can down the road irresponsibly and cow tow to the wishes of an industry that not only is responsible for over 75% of the current pollution in the Everglades, but is only on the hook to pay for less than a quarter of the cleanup.
Sugar industry backers including highly paid lobbyist/consultants (many of whom are Democrats) have penetrated the political system and left environmentalists and common sense behind. The industry has successfully exaggerated the impact they have on Florida’s economy and the state’s job market thanks to the skillful public relations campaign waged by these savvy political insiders.
The cabinet’s decision today paves the way for less accountability for polluters as sugar refused to agree to stricter requirements regarding the discharge of pollutants. The loser today was Florida’s citizens as the clean up costs for the Everglades will escalate thanks to the continued non-accountability policy towards sugar and necessity to maintain a clean supply of drinking water for southern Florida.
Perhaps long term when taxes on citizens go up to clean up the Everglades, we can call it the “Scott Tax.”