Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cleaning Up the Everglades Issue for North Florida Too

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cleaning Up the Everglades Issue for North Florida Too

Article excerpt

Sure, the Everglades are at the other end of the state, but

Northeast Florida voters may have a say about who will pay to

clean up decades of pollution there.

initiatives proposed for the November general election ballot

that would affect the Everglades and Florida's sugar industry.

The court heard oral arguments on the initiatives last month

and could rule any time.

People representing both sides of the issues were present this

week at a United We Stand America forum on citizen initiatives.

In debate is a proposal to levy a one-cent-perpound fee on raw

sugar produced in the Everglades agricultural area. The fee

would be assessed for 25 years against growers.

Interestingly, growers say they would not be able to pass along

the cost because it would make Florida cane sugar more expensive

than its competitors.

The second of the three initiatives places responsibility for

cleaning up water pollution in the Everglades on those who were

responsible for causing it.

The third creates a trust fund to make money available for the

Everglades cleanup.

Proponents of the initiatives blame the sugar industry for

polluting the Everglades and argue that the polluters ought to

pay to clean them up. If not the sugar industry, they say,

taxpayers will have to pay, because the Everglades must be

cleaned up.

Sugar farmers oppose the initiatives. They say they are already

contributing more than $300 million to preserve the Everglades

and cite reports showing they have already reduced pollutants by

two-thirds in just one year.

Farmers also say they're not the only ones responsible for

discharging pollutants into the Everglades but they would be the

only ones required to pay for the cleanup if the initiatives

pass.

North Florida voters may wonder what difference it makes to

them. In addition to the tax question, there's the issue of

fresh water. South Florida needs water, and if it can't get it

from the Everglades it may turn to North Florida, which right

now has plenty of water.

That's what happened in California years ago. …

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