Legal actions

Why is Friends of the Everglades involved in legal actions?

Friends of the Everglades was founded by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1969 as an advocacy group to preserve and protect the only Everglades on Earth. By the 1960s, after decades of human manipulation – driven mostly by greed and poor understanding of the flood control, water supply and ecological values that the Everglades provides – this priceless asset was in imminent danger of disappearing forever. Douglas founded Friends of the Everglades to stop the construction of a huge jetport in the Big Cypress portion of the Everglades. Due in large part to Friends’ advocacy, President Nixon scrapped funding for the project.

When state or federal governments fail protect the Florida Everglades from pollution and other threats, then groups like Friends of the Everglades must step in to uphold the laws enacted to preserve it. Over the years, Friends has been involved in a number of legal actions to: (1) stop South Florida Water Management District from back-pumping agricultural chemicals from Big Sugar’s plantations into Lake Okeechobee; and, (2) require proper treatment of agricultural chemicals discharged to the Everglades from the Everglades Agricultural Area (“EAA”).

Friends’ legal actions have gone from federal district courts in Miami up to the United States Supreme Court and back two times. Friends’ legal victory to stop harmful back-pumping of polluted water was only stymied by a Bush Administration regulation (the Water Transfer Rule), which permitted the transfer of the most polluted water in the country into the most pristine waters, without the necessity of federal discharge permits. But, even now, Friends’ legal team has not given up and is still challenging the Bush Water Transfer Rule, along with other conservation groups, such as Trout Unlimited and Florida Wildlife Federation.

Along with the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, Friends has valiantly struggled in court for decades to abate agricultural chemical pollution of the Everglades. Friends’ case to abate agricultural chemical pollution of the Everglades (“phosphorus”), currently before federal district judge Alan Gold, is finally yielding significant results. Friends’ ultimate goal in this case is to ensure that the Everglades is protected from harmful effects of man-made pollution.

View pdf files of recent opinions in Friends’ cases:

  1. Judge Gold’s 2008 Summary Judgment Order in favor of Friends
  2. Judge Gold’s 2010 Compliance Order in favor of Friends
  3. EPA’s Amended Determination issued on Sept. 3, 2010
  4. Judge Moreno’s Special Master Report, Aug. 30, 2010
  5. Judge Moreno’s Special Master Report, Jan. 4, 2011
  6. 11th Circuit’s Opinion in S-2/3/4 Back-pumping case
  7. Judge Moreno’s Decision, 3/22/11, adopting the Special Master’s Report


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