Everglades deal in jeopardy after judge's ruling

Apr 01, 2010 By BRIAN SKOLOFF , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- Gov. Charlie Crist's grand plan to revive the dying Florida Everglades by buying back the land is in jeopardy after a federal judge Wednesday ordered the state to resume construction on a multimillion-dollar restoration project.

Work on the 25-square-mile reservoir - the largest of its kind in the world - was halted in 2008 after water managers said a lawsuit from environmentalists could hinder their ability to complete the project.

The decision to stop work came just a month before Crist announced a plan to spend $1.75 billion to buy all of U.S. Sugar Corp.'s 180,000 acres and assets in the Everglades.

Crist's plan has since been scaled down, because of the economy, to $536 million for 73,000 acres from U.S. Sugar, the nation's largest cane sugar producer.

U.S District Judge Federico Moreno's ruling on Wednesday could now end it all.

Moreno granted a motion from the Miccosukee Indians, who live in the Everglades, to force the South Florida Water Management District to resume construction of the massive reservoir with an estimated cost of up to $800 million.

The district oversees the state's Everglades and has said previously it likely couldn't afford both the U.S. Sugar deal and the reservoir.

"The court is now uncertain as to what role the downsized land purchase will play in Everglades restoration," Moreno wrote in his ruling. "Meanwhile, the projects devised years ago ... are waiting in standstill."

The judge agreed with the Miccosukee that halting the reservoir project "despite the best efforts of Governor Crist" would further pollute the tribe's land.

Crist's office said it was reviewing the ruling to determine the next step. The district also said it was reviewing the ruling.

"This puts Everglades restoration back on track," said tribe attorney Dexter Lehtinen. "If they're going to do the land deal, it's got to now be in addition to the restoration projects they promised, so they've got a huge problem."

U.S. Sugar spokeswoman Judy Sanchez said the ruling does not preclude the state from purchasing lands that would allow for more effectively designed restoration projects.

The sugar land deal also faces legal challenges. The state Supreme Court is set to hear the case next week.

It the deal falls through, it could serve up another blow to Crist's campaign for U.S. Senate. He is locked in a close contest for the GOP nomination, and the U.S. Sugar purchase was set to be a cornerstone of his legacy.

The Everglades have been dying for decades from the intrusion of farms and development, dissected by dikes, dams and canals, effectively draining much of the swamp and polluting it with fertilizers and urban runoff. The state and federal governments' efforts to restore the wetlands have been stymied for years by funding shortfalls, legal challenges and political bickering.

Explore further: Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

1 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Feds failing to fix the Everglades

Sep 26, 2006

The National Research Council has issued a U.S. Congress-mandated report that criticizes the $10.9 billion campaign to restore Florida's Everglades.

Ruling allows poultry pollution evidence

Mar 24, 2006

A judge in Oklahoma has ruled that state officials may collect evidence for a lawsuit in which they allege poultry farms are polluting state watersheds.

Sugarcane okay in standing water, helps protect Everglades

Mar 24, 2010

A study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists shows that sugarcane can tolerate flooded conditions for up to two weeks. That's good news for growers who are using best management practices for controlling phosphorous ...

Recommended for you

Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

16 hours ago

New Zealand's pastoral landscapes are some of the loveliest in the world, but they also contain a hidden threat. Many of the country's pasture soils have become enriched in cadmium. Grasses take up this toxic heavy metal, ...

Oil drilling possible 'trigger' for deadly Italy quakes

20 hours ago

Italy's Emilia-Romagna region on Tuesday suspended new drilling as it published a report that warned that hydrocarbon exploitation may have acted as a "trigger" in twin earthquakes that killed 26 people in ...

Snow is largely a no-show for Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

20 hours ago

On March 1, 65 mushers and their teams of dogs left Anchorage, Alaska, on a quest to win the Iditarod—a race covering 1,000 miles of mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forest, tundra and coastline. According ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

21 hours ago

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Study shows less snowpack will harm ecosystem

22 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A new study by CAS Professor of Biology Pamela Templer shows that milder winters can have a negative impact both on trees and on the water quality of nearby aquatic ecosystems, far into the warm growing season.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.