Sugarcane Burning is a Public Health Threat

It’s no secret that Big Sugar has long polluted our air and our water. Now groundbreaking new research has confirmed the human toll of the industry’s pollution. An independent study by Dr. Michée Lachaud — an agricultural, environmental and resource economist associated with Florida A&M University — has linked pre-harvest sugarcane burning to a 10.8% increase in physician-diagnosed asthmas cases. A new study has established a statistically significant link between sugarcane burning and increased asthma incidence rates among low-income Florida communities, which are predominantly Black. Conducted for Friends of the Everglades by Dr. Michée Lachaud—an agricultural, environmental, and resource economist associated with Florida A&M University in Tallahassee—the study draws its conclusions by analyzing data on physician-diagnosed asthma cases alongside [...]

2024-05-30T11:42:02-04:00May 7th, 2024|Action Alerts, Sugarcane Burning|

STA capacity must be publicly addressed to fix the rigged system

We need you to speak up! On March 30, the Army Corps of Engineers closed the flood gates from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River, Caloosahatchee River and Lake Worth Lagoon. This pause is a testament to the power of public pressure.  Thanks to important input provided by stakeholders as well as the official recommendations of the South Florida Water Management District, only beneficial releases are resuming  to the Caloosahatchee and releases to the St. Lucie River and Lake Worth Lagoon will remain paused. We are grateful to the Army Corps for listening to our concerns and adjusting Lake O flows accordingly. But even with harmful releases temporarily avoided, the problem remains. Should the wet season [...]

2024-05-30T11:42:03-04:00April 8th, 2024|Action Alerts, All Posts, Lake Okeechobee, Toxic Algae|

Ask SFWMD Governing Board members to fix the rigged system

We need you to speak up! Since February 17, water managers have permitted the release of harmful discharges out of Lake Okeechobee, causing damaging declines in salinity on Florida’s east and west coasts and staining the fragile St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and Lake Worth Lagoon with dark, polluted water. As Floridians eye the coming wet season, signs of an early algae bloom lurk in the northwest corner of the lake — a symptom that could indicate a disastrous and toxic summer ahead. This all-too-familiar scenario is the product of a rigged system.  There is a solution, and we need South Florida Water Management District Governing Board members to embrace it.  About 62,000 acres of taxpayer-funded stormwater [...]

2024-03-27T08:39:42-04:00March 27th, 2024|Action Alerts, All Posts, Lake Okeechobee, Toxic Algae|

WATCH NOW — Lake Okeechobee discharges are not a “necessary evil”

https://youtu.be/BUS0_v1IqSw?si=iJAP5wVP5sFaCHzq From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: It’s been just over a month since the Army Corps of Engineers opened the floodgates from Lake Okeechobee, causing polluted water to foul the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and the Lake Worth Lagoon. As a result, water quality and salinity levels have plummeted in these fragile estuaries. Water that should be clear now has the murky hue of Yoohoo.   It’s an ugly scene — but the most dangerous conditions still lie ahead of us. About 15% of Lake O is showing signs of an algae bloom, mostly along the western and northern shore. As the weather heats up, that bloom will expand [...]

Tell lawmakers to kill HB 789/SB 738

We need you to speak up! All session long, we’ve been cautiously watching House Bill 789/Senate Bill 738, sponsored by Rep. Toby Overdorf and Sen. Danny Burgess.  We sounded the alarm — and you responded — in order to successfully kill two dangerous proposals in the original versions of the bills. It was a small, noteworthy victory. The bill is less bad now, but it’s still bad news. Friends of the Everglades remains very concerned about a remaining provision in the bill that would prohibit citizens from suing polluters for personal injury or economic damages, if the event that caused the injuries was duly permitted or authorized by a government agency.  Sounds to us like a backdoor way [...]

Tell Rep. Stevenson to keep HB 789 off her committee’s agenda

We need you to speak up! One of the worst bills of the legislative session might get its first committee hearing this week — but you can help head it off at the pass. House Bill 789, sponsored by Rep. Toby Overdorf, would force anyone who challenges and loses a Florida Department of Environmental Protection or water management district decision to pay the other side’s legal fees. It would intimidate citizens and effectively prevent them from filing a challenge, because they literally can’t afford to lose. The bill is bad for other reasons, too. It may run afoul of a federal Environmental Protection Agency proposal which states that this sort of “fee shifting” blocks access to the [...]

Here are 3 ways to help us achieve Sugar Reform Now

https://youtu.be/k_OeECca6wI SUGAR REFORM NOW Our mission to save the only Everglades in the world can only be realized if we stop allowing the sugar industry to profit from poisoning this treasured ecosystem. You can help us achieve that. The sugar program in the U.S. Farm Bill is an outdated, overly generous system of price supports and import quotas that enrich billionaire backed sugar companies — namely Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar. The Farm Bill is set to expire this year, and we need a loud chorus of voices speaking up for reform.  Here are three things you can do to help us achieve Sugar Reform Now: Watch the video: Our 30-second video visually illustrates the negative impact of the [...]

2023-08-28T17:15:03-04:00August 29th, 2023|Action Alerts, All Posts, Big Sugar, Farm Bill|

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to end damaging sugar protections in the Farm Bill

For the better part of a century, the U.S. Farm Bill has protected billionaire-backed sugar companies at the expense of clean air and water in Florida. We have an opportunity to change that now — with your help. Join the movement demanding an end to sugar handouts in the Farm Bill by signing the Sugar Reform Now petition!  How does the sugar program negatively impact us?  Through price supports and strict import limits on sugar, consumers and taxpayers pay more — while sugar barons get richer. Windfall profits generated by the sugarcane industry, led by Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar, are then used to buy influence over lawmakers. This protects the status quo that forces South Florida taxpayers to [...]

Sugar Reform Now: Sign the U.S. Farm Bill petition to protect the Everglades

For decades, private sugar companies have received enormous government handouts via the U.S. Farm Bill — to the detriment of clean air and water in Florida.   Through controls on production and strict import limits, the cost of the federal sugar program is shifted to consumers and taxpayers. Windfall profits generated by the sugar industry, led by Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar, are then used to buy influence over lawmakers. This unjust, outdated policy enriches billionaire-backed sugar companies at the expense of the iconic, life-sustaining Everglades and nearby communities. It's a double-whammy for South Florida taxpayers, who also foot the bill to clean polluted water from sugarcane fields south of Lake Okeechobee. Meanwhile, people who live near those sugarcane fields [...]

Gov. DeSantis, don’t disempower citizens. VETO Senate Bill 540

We need you to speak up! Senate Bill 540 , which the Legislature passed May 2, would be a death knell for citizen engagement in development decisions. It would make it almost impossible for average residents to bring challenges to legally flawed amendments to local comprehensive plans, which serve as the blueprint for growth in local communities. SB 540 undercuts the fundamental right to seek remedy from the courts if the political process fails. That’s bad for the future of Florida, bad for the Everglades, and bad for water and wildlife. It also flies in the face of Gov. DeSantis Executive Order 23-06, which called for protecting the long-term planning process that safeguards sustainable growth in Florida. To [...]