The Legislative Session has closed and we find ourselves with the promise of southern storage! After a long hard fight, Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran arm wrestled in a give and take that ultimately came down to education vs Everglades Restoration.
Southern Storage Modifications
SB10 started as a plan to take 60,000 acres of land out of production in the Everglades Agricultural Area to use for southern southern storage. The cry to "Send Water South" was heard around the state.
Despite old promises made by U.S. Sugar to the State of Florida to sell land for southern storage, they changed their tune and dug in their heels - not wanting to give up land for anything.
Grassroots nonprofit groups around the state including BullSugar, Captains for Clean Water, Love the Everglades, and Florida Bay Forever gathered countless citizens to sign the #NoworNeverglades petition, write letters, show up at meetings, and call their representatives.
It Worked - Sort of
The noise across the state was enough for policymakers to take the issue of creating southern storage seriously. And yet, the reality of alienating Big Sugar by holding them to their contract was a dark and looming threat to all politicians hoping to get reelected next year. What to do?
Negron and Corcoran ultimately worked it out in back room sessions. To the disappointment of so many citizens who thought the scourge of green algae would be the straw that would cut loose Everglades Restoration progress. . . . . Big Sugar held strong over the men and women who get to write the rules.
Surely the scourge of green algae that plagued Florida coastlines would break loose a fast track to Everglades Restoration. . . .
The final deal puts southern storage on state owned land. Hmph. Sugar gets off scot-free. They don't have to honor their contract. They get to go on - business as usual.
It hurts actually. Sugar is to blame for so many good and reasons.
Ultimately, the storage that will go on state-owned land is the storage that is called for in CERP. The "enviros" won a small victory. Big Sugar won a large victory and the politicians will live to be reelected next session.