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Everglades Trust

Florida’s Shame: Toxic Water, Toxic Air

Team Everglades-

In battles of the people vs. certain corporate interests, when we are up against endless spending on massive PR machines, high-paid lobbyists, and bought politicians, we rely on one of the most valuable weapons there is: independent journalism.

In ProPublica and the Palm Beach Post’s recent investigative report on sugarcane burning, we see journalism at its finest. By placing air quality sensors on Glades residents’ homes and tracking every burn during the latest harvest season, these reporters debunk sugar’s infamous claim that “air in the Glades is cleaner than urban areas.”

Every year during the nine month harvest season, the Glades are exposed to raining ash and polluted smoke from Big Sugar’s cheap but harmful practice of sugarcane burning. Fine particulate matter from the cane burns gets deep into the lungs and even into the bloodstream of residents, and has been linked to a multitude of health issues, from heart attacks to cancer.

It is common sense that repeated exposure to smoke is not healthy. However, sugar has been able to dodge any meaningful regulation of their harmful practice using their usual tactics of well-funded disinformation campaigns, “capturing” the regulators, and skewing the data in their favor.

In this investigation, reporters collected air pollution data directly from residents’ homes, providing the much-needed numbers to back what we know with common sense — that sugarcane burning is linked to harmful air pollution.

The fight to force Big Sugar to modernize appears a lot more promising. You can help — send an email to Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture below.

And, as always, stick with us!


Sugar Companies Said Our Investigation Is Flawed and Biased. Let’s Dive Into Why That’s Not the Case. | Pro Publica + The Palm Beach Post

Sugar gets a second dose of smackdown when they challenge The Palm Beach Post and Pro Publica’s outstanding reporting on the environmental and human health effects of their archaic practice.

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Water quality issues continue in Matlacha Pass, a State Aquatic Preserve | Calusa Waterkeeper

Clean water advocate Jason Pim describes this scene in the Gulf off Lee County: “The longer standing impact from all this domination by bacteria/algae is it blocks out sunlight and continues to negatively impact seagrass beds and other habitat dependent on photosynthesis… Everyone loves fishing in funky gravy looking stuff.”

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Historic drought tears communities apart as farmers, tribes and wildlife refuges face bleak future | CBS News

“The severe drought in California has exacerbated a water conflict that traces its roots back more than a century.” Meanwhile, a handful of billionaires extract by trickery the planet’s most precious resource: freshwater. Sound familiar?

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2021 is already the deadliest year on record for Florida manatees. Why are they dying? | TC Palm

More head scratching. More studies. More handwringing. Enough! This is not rocket science. Florida’s waterways are polluted. The filth is killing the seagrasses. These poor creatures are starving to death.

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It’s a fish graveyard in southern Pinellas County, from St. Petersburg to Pass-A-Grille Beach | Meteorologist Bryan Bennett

The horror show that are Florida’s waterways is on full display on our west coast. Different parts of our state have different polluters (we’re looking at you, Big Sugar), but what they have in common is a complete lack of competence at holding them accountable. Regulations are necessary, obviously. Stewardship is in short supply. It will be up to Floridians to fix this mess. We are seeing what our elected officials will and will not do. Get mad, stay loud. Elect different people or this will continue.

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Hagens Berman and Berman Law Group: Court upholds Florida residents’ claims in sugarcane burning pollution lawsuit against Big Sugar | BusinessWire

A big win for the people, a resounding smackdown of Big Sugar: Despite the Legislature’s best efforts, a federal judge will not consider their attempt to get the sugar industry out of an ongoing class action lawsuit. “A federal judge has upheld negligence, strict liability, and medical monitoring claims brought by Florida residents in a lawsuit against conglomerate sugarcane growers who practice widespread sugarcane crop burning causing pollution, property damage and hazardous air quality.”

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OLD RULES: The Everglades are collapsing from a severe lack of clean water, while trillions of gallons of toxic and polluted water are discharged to both coasts of Florida. These calamities continue because the “RULES” the Army Corps uses for managing water in Lake O were written by and for the sugar industry.

NEW RULES: We’ve been working with the Army Corps to change the rules to reflect a 21st century Florida. As expected, Big Sugar’s lobbyists are hard at work – right now! – trying to ensure things stay the same.

THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO ROAR: The Army Corps wants to hear from YOU. So, now is the time to act. Email the Corps and demand Big Sugar’s attempt to write the NEW RULES be rejected. Big Sugar wins if the public is absent from the conversation. So, let them hear you ROAR. We make it quick and super easy on this link!